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Access Campaign Launched for Colorado’s Newly Enacted Law

featureCompassion & Choices launched the statewide bilingual Colorado Access Campaign on December 7 to educate Coloradans about the benefits and requirements of the state’s new medical aid-in-dying bill that was signed into law by Governor John Hickenlooper nine days later.

“The Colorado Access Campaign is built on our nineteen years of experience helping to implement medical aid-in-dying laws in the five other states that have authorized medical aid in dying,” said Compassion & Choices National Director of Policy and Programs Kat West. “That’s why it is critical for Coloradans to start talking to their doctors today to find out whether their doctors will support them if they were diagnosed with a terminal illness and want this option. There are terminally ill people right now who need this law, so it is urgent for doctors to understand this compassionate medical practice and respect the decisions of terminally ill individuals who want this option for the comfort and peace of mind it brings.”

As part of the Colorado Access Campaign, Compassion & Choices will provide education and technical assistance to doctors, healthcare providers and terminally ill adults about all the end-of-life care options to relieve intolerable suffering, including hospice, palliative care and medical aid in dying. The Colorado Hospital Association is among a group of healthcare groups, hospitals, medical and hospice facilities and nonprofit organizations working with Compassion & Choices to ensure all Coloradans understand that medical aid in dying is a legitimate and trusted end-of-life care option.

“It is very important for doctors to understand how to respond to a terminally ill person’s request for medical aid in dying,” said Dr. David Grube, a national medical director for Compassion & Choices, who has written aid-in-dying prescriptions authorized by Oregon’s death-with-dignity law. “The doctor’s response should include assessing the patient’s mental capability to make an informed decision, reviewing the patient’s previous treatment, and offering alternatives to medical aid in dying, such as hospice and palliative care.”

The 30-point margin of victory for the measure in Colorado demonstrates strong public support for the option of medical aid in dying across virtually all demographics in the state. Both men and women, Hispanics and whites and people with and without college degrees said they backed the proposal, according to exit polling conducted for The Associated Press and television networks in Colorado. Nationally, 69% of Hispanics support medical aid in dying, according to a new survey conducted by LifeWay Research.

The Colorado law will give mentally capable, terminally ill adults with six months or less to live the option to request a doctor’s prescription for medication that they can decide to take to end unbearable suffering by dying peacefully in their sleep. With the Colorado law now in effect, 18% of the U.S. population live in one of six states that authorize this end-of-life care option.

Terminally ill Coloradans, their families, physicians and pharmacists can get information about the law by visiting: compassionandchoices.org/colorado or by emailing [email protected]. Information is available in English and Spanish. Physicians will be able to access Compassion & Choices’ free Doc2Doc consultation program to speak to doctors with years of experience in end-of-life care, including medical aid in dying. Pharmacists will also be able to access the Pharmacist2Pharmacist consultation program.