(Denver, Colorado – Feb 24, 2016) Despite the Colorado legislature’s inaction on the Colorado End of Life Options Act, advocates for the legislation say the battle to give terminally ill Coloradans the end-of-life medical option of aid in dying is far from over.
On Tuesday, HB16-1054, the End of Life Options Act was laid over indefinitely in the Colorado House. House sponsors Representative Joann Ginal (HD- 52) and Representative Lois Court (HD-6) spokeWednesday morning to express their commitment to continuing to educate their constituents and their colleagues.
“Today, Colorado’s elected representatives ignored the sincere and well-considered wishes of their constituents,” said Compassion & Choices President, Barbara Coombs Lee. “Their inaction means more painful, agonized deaths when aid in dying could have given comfort, and more grief for families who witness needless suffering.” Coombs Lee added, “We know that Coloradans overwhelmingly want access to aid in dying, and Compassion & Choices is committed to giving them that option as soon as possible.”
The Colorado End of Life Options Act is closely modeled after the Death With Dignity Act in Oregon, which has worked well for 17 years, without a single documented case of abuse or coercion. California recently became the 5th state to authorize this option of medical aid in dying, and the 2nd state after Vermont in 2013 to do it via the legislature. The other three states that authorize this end-of-life option are Oregon (via referendum in 1994), Washington (via referendum in 2008) and Montana (via state Supreme Court decision in 2009). More than half the states in the country have considered similar legislation in the past year.
“Compassion & Choices and our tireless advocates will not rest until we make medical aid in dying an option for terminally ill adults in Colorado,” said Compassion & Choices Cultivation Manager Roland Halpern.
Coloradans from across the state came to the Capitol to testify in support of The Colorado End of Life Options Act, which would allow mentally capable, terminally ill adults the option to request a doctor’s prescription for medication that they could take if their suffering becomes unbearable, to painlessly and peacefully die in their sleep.
Dan Diaz was in Colorado earlier this year to meet one-on-one with legislators and share his story and the story of his beloved late wife Brittany Maynard. Maynard had terminal brain cancer and moved from California to Oregon in 2014 to access that state’s Death with Dignity Act. Diaz said, “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, who agree with Brittany and support End-of-Life Options for terminally ill individuals.”