Colorado Committee Votes Friday on Whether to Legalize Assisted Suicide

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 5, 2015   |   6:10PM   |   Denver, CO

A sate House legislative committee will vote Friday on a bill in Colorado that would legalize assisted suicide. A coalition of disability rights groups, faith-based organizations and the pro-life group Colorado Citizens for Life is opposed to the bill, HB 1135.

Tomorrow,  the so-called  ‘Colorado Death with Dignity Act’ (HB 1135) will be heard by the Public Health Care & Human Services Committee, which would legalize assisted suicide in Colorado.Sarah Zagorski of Colorado Citizens for Life says the bill is wrongheaded.

picassistedsuicide26“We must show true compassion to individuals suffering from depression, disability or a terminal illness rather than pressure these vulnerable individuals into ending their life and turning doctors into killers,” she said.

“Under HB 1135 the definition of terminally ill can include those with years and possibly decades left to live,” she said. “Advocates of physician assisted suicide often make the claim that lethal prescriptions will only be available for those who are terminally ill, or dying anyway.  However, the language used in the Colorado bill is broad and unenforceable.  Terminal illness is often difficult to predict, especially at the six-month range.””For example, insulin reliant diabetics who stop taking their medication could quality, even though they could live decades with treatment,” Zagoski added. “Under HB 1135, lethal medications can be prescribed to those with diagnosable mental illness and depression. Prior to obtaining a lethal prescription, it is not required that a patient receive psychological or psychiatric evaluation.  An evaluation is only needed if a doctor thinks that the patient is suffering from a psychological or psychiatric disorder or depression “that may impair his or her ability to make an informed decisions.”

She continued: “Under HB 1135 a witness is needed to verify that the patient is competent to be making such a life ending decision.  The problem is, someone who could benefit financially from the patient’s death can serve as a witness nor does it ban a health care providers from encouraging or suggesting that a vulnerable patients request the lethal drugs.”

“HB 1135 does not prohibit anyone from suggesting or encouraging a patient to request to ask for lethal drugs,” she concluded. “Victims of elder abuse, those with disabilities who are seen as having a “low quality of life”, and at-risk populations tend to be either unable or unlikely to share their fears with outsiders or to reveal that they are being pressured by caregivers or family to request suicide.”

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