Our Colorado team continues to make encouraging progress: Following 11 hours of compelling testimony for the Colorado End of Life Options Act at the state Capitol last week, members of the House Judiciary Committee voted six to five in favor of the bill, allowing the legislation to move to the House floor.
“The campaign to give terminally ill Coloradans the option of medical aid in dying had a real victory today,” said Compassion & Choices Cultivation Manager Roland Halpern after the hearing. “We applaud members of the House Judiciary Committee who listened to their constituents and agreed that people facing unbearable suffering at the end of life should have more options and more control over how they spend their final days and weeks.
Compassion & Choices rallied Coloradans from across the state to travel to Denver and speak out in support of the bill. Patti James, a 79-year-old RN from Littleton who has terminal cancer, testified at the House hearing and expressed her gratitude: “I am a nurse who has seen too many difficult, painful deaths. I am also a woman with stage three lung cancer, which means a cruel and terrifying dying process is in my future. I want to thank the committee for truly hearing what we had to say and moving this legislation to the next step. I may not ultimately be able to access this compassionate option, but I hope other dying Coloradans can one day.”
C&C advocate Dan Diaz had his testimony read aloud to the House committee and provided video testimony given by his late wife, Brittany Maynard. Maynard had terminal brain cancer and moved from California to Oregon in 2014 to access the state’s aid-in-dying law. Diaz explained, “As a Catholic, I believe it is not for me to judge someone else’s decision regarding their own end of life. I respect those who might make a different decision if they were in Brittany’s shoes, so I don’t understand why they do not extend the same respect to those of us, and the 68% of Coloradans, that agree with Brittany and support end-of-life options for terminally ill individuals.”
Modeled after Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act, the Colorado End of Life Options Act would allow mentally capable, terminally ill adults to request a doctor’s prescription for medication that they could take to die peacefully should their suffering become unbearable.