Colorado House Committee Defeats Bill to Legalize Assisted Suicide

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 7, 2015   |   2:02PM   |   Denver, CO

Today, Colorado lawmakers defeated a bill 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. The measure died on a bipartisan 8-5 vote.

Sarah Zagorski, the Executive Director of Colorado Citizens for Life, applauded the vote and said, “We commend the legislators who voted against the bill.

picassistedsuicide18“During the committee hearing, medical professionals, disability groups and hospice organizations explained the monumental problems with HB 1135, which included inadequate safeguards, ambiguous language and the potential for abuse of our most vulnerable populations, like the elderly and disabled,” she added.

Zagorski told LifeNews: “Assisted suicide preys on the disabled, the elderly and people dealing with advanced illnesses. When death is presented as a solution for illness or advancing age, it represents a society that is turning its back on the medically vulnerable who are at risk of depression or mental health concerns and worried about the future.”

The Director of Colorado Citizens for Life said that, during the committee hearing, sponsor of the bill, Rep. Joann Ginal (D-Fort Collins) said that HB 1135 is modeled off of Oregon’s assisted suicide legislation and claimed that since it’s passage in 1997, it has not been abused. However, that claim is blatantly false. In Oregondepressed people have died by assisted suicide, and patients, who were denied medical treatment, were steered to assisted suicide by the state health plan.

“Furthermore, under HB 1135 the definition of terminally ill can include those with years and possibly decades left to live. For example, Oregon resident Jeanette Hall, who was terminally ill and wanted assisted suicide, is alive today because her doctor convinced her to try medical treatment.”

Zagorski talked about the slipper slop assisted suicide leads to — such as euthanasia and rationing medical care.

“Many are unaware that the group that supports this legislation, “Compassion and Choices”, promotes a practice called VSED, which instructs elderly people to stop eating and taking liquids if they want to kill themselves. There are simply not enough ways to safeguard against abuse of this practice and it completely goes against the medical profession which vows to “do no harm,”” she said.

“Colorado cannot accept assisted suicide because it is a step toward an ugly future, which includes killing unwilling victims because it is a “kind and merciful” act. It includes patients who are suffering with mental illness killing themselves with the help of doctors; and it includes the handicapped, elderly and sick being taken advantage of by others who wish for their demise. Colorado Citizens for Life plans to work with other pro-life groups to defeat this legislation,” she added.

Please take two minutes and sign the petition to tell Colorado lawmakers that you’re against assisted suicide!

Leading disability rights groups also opposed the legislation.

“Not Dead Yet is among a long list of disability rights organizations opposing the legalization of physician‐assisted suicide. This legislation is a deadly mix in a profit‐driven healthcare system where a lethal prescription may become the cheapest treatment. The bill poses a direct threat to the lives of persons with disabilities and the elderly,” said Carrie Ann Lucas of Not Dead Yet Colorado.

“The American Medical Association summed it up well when it described physician‐assisted suicide as fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role to heal, difficult to control and posing serious societal risks to patients. The so‐called ‘right to die’ may become the duty to die for seniors who do not want to be burdens and thereby take their own lives through state‐ facilitated suicide,” said Dr. Jim Small with the American Academy of Medical Ethics Colorado Chapter.

Dr. Alan Rastrelli of Divine Mercy Supportive Care responds, “When curing an illness is no longer an option, and caring for a patient at the end of their life becomes the primary concern, hospice and palliative‐care workers have the privilege to enter into this sacred journey with patients and families to ease their bodies through the natural course of their illness. This bill attempts to legitimize the taking of one’s own life and should be defeated.”

“Physician‐assisted suicide is a bad solution to a problem we already solve every day here in Colorado,” said Jennifer Ballentine, end of life expert with Hospice Analytics. “Proponents offer a stark – and false – choice between terrible suffering or committing suicide with prescription drugs. Hospice and palliative care offer a proven and widely available alternative. In 2013, 18,500 Coloradans received hospice care from 61 agencies across the state.”

In October, terminally ill cancer patient, Brittany Maynard, became the face of the assisted suicide movement in our country. Brittany had stage IV glioblastoma multiforme, which is the most deadly form of brain cancer and was given six-months to live.

After her diagnosis, Brittany decided to move from her California home to Oregon so she could have access to lethal drugs to use to take her life. Oregon is one of five states, along with New Mexico, Montana, Washington, and Vermont that allow assisted suicide for terminally ill patients. Tragically, on November 2nd, Brittany legally ended her own life with a lethal dose of Phenobarbital.

In Oregon, depressed people have died by assisted suicide, and patients, who were denied medical treatment, were steered to assisted suicide by the state health plan. Oregon resident Jeanette Hall, who was terminally ill and wanted assisted suicide, is alive today because her doctor convinced her to try medical treatment.

For more information on how legislators voted, contact Colorado Citizens for Life at [email protected].