'Death with Dignity' bill approved in DC

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Woman with terminal cancer talks about supporting "death with dignity" bill. (KTRK)

Former journalist and professional photographer Mary Klein hopes to continue to lead a long and cherished life.

"I've had a wonderful life and I still do," says Klein to WJLA.

But the 69-year-old has terminal ovarian cancer.

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"I don't know how long I have to live but I'm doing everything I can to extend my life," Klein said.

Klein had endured arduous chemotherapy treatments and a radical surgery so aggressive her body is now breaking down.

"This is a losing battle and when I have just a few months more left to live I'd like the option of a peaceful death," Klein said.

On Tuesday, D.C. Council passed overwhelmingly a "Death with Dignity" bill. If the legislation gets final approval, Klein says she would consider getting the medication needed to end her life.

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"I'm not afraid of dying, but I really want to do it on my own terms," Klein said.

Councilmember Mary Cheh, the bill's sponsor, says safeguards are in place to prevent abuse. Two doctors must ensure the patient has less than six months to live, is over 18, is mentally competent and is aware of other options such as hospice care. In addition, the patient is prescribed medication that is self-administered.

"Nobody has to do this. It's completely the patient's choice," Cheh said. "The patient could change his or her mind at any time."

Klein spent a career capturing life's complexities and beauty with a camera. She knows what it is to live and now would like a say in how she dies.

"I don't want to be in a coma. I want to be with loved ones. I want to be coherent and so we will see how that goes, " Klein said.

Mayor Muriel Bowser is expected to pass this bill into law. It's unclear if Congress will get involved. At this time, several states have similar laws in place including Oregon and Washington.
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