Colorado Voters to Decide Whether or Not to Legalize Assisted Suicide

Photo Credit: Julia Freeman Woolpert
Photo Credit: Julia Freeman Woolpert

COLORADO SPRINGS, Co. — Voters in Colorado will decide this November whether or not to legalize assisted suicide in the state, as a ballot initiative has been approved for this year’s election season.

Colorado currently outlaws aiding in one’s death, criminalizing the act as felony manslaughter. But after failed attempts in the legislature to legalize assisted suicide, a ballot initiative has been put forward for the people to vote on the matter.

“Shall there be a change to the Colorado revised statutes to permit any mentally capable adult Colorado resident who has a medical prognosis of death by terminal illness within six months to receive a prescription from a willing licensed physician for medication that can be self-administered to bring about death,” Proposition 106 asks in part.

It requires that two physicians confirm the patient’s terminal prognosis and that the patient be advised of all treatment options other than assisted suicide. Patients will also be mandated to undergo “evaluation by a licensed mental health professional if either physician believes the patient may not be mentally capable.”

Reaction to the proposal has been mixed. NPR interviewed resident Matt Larson, who was diagnosed last spring with brain cancer and underwent surgery and radiation to fight the disease.

“I have a 50/50 probability that I’m going to live,” he told the outlet. “I hope to beat the odds. I desperately want to live.”

But Larson said that if the brain cancer returns again and is considered incurable, he welcomes the option of assisted suicide rather than dying a painful death.

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“It would just bring me a ton of peace and comfort now to know that I have this option,” he stated.

However, Al Maurer of Communities Digital News pointed to the negative ramifications of legalizing the practice.

“The federal government has no problem forcing physicians to perform abortions. Now, at the other end of life, physicians will be asked by the state to be complicit in suicide,” he wrote. “Not only will physicians come under increasing pressure, but the elderly and the disabled will be as well.”

Maurer noted a recent report in the Daily Signal where an elderly woman in Vermont was offered the option of assisted suicide after she broke her wrist.

“[S]taff at her rehab center ‘repeatedly asked the elderly woman if she was in pain or depressed; then they would remind her that she could commit doctor-prescribed suicide under the new law,’” the report outlined.

“Healthcare is expensive; death is free,” Maurer lamented. “[T]hose in pain or with a terminal diagnosis deserve our help and support, not death.”

As previously reported, there are five American states in which assisted suicide is legal. Following its passage in the legislature in October 2015, California became the fifth state to legalize physician-assisted suicide following Vermont, Oregon, Washington and Montana. Assisted suicide was permitted in Montana through the courts, however, as opposed to a vote in the legislature.

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