COLORADO SPRINGS, Co. — Voters in Colorado have approved a ballot initiative to legalize assisted suicide in the state.
According to the Denver Post, Proposition 106 passed overwhelmingly with two thirds of the vote.
“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,” it asked in part.
The measure 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.”
Proposition 106 was modeled after Oregon’s “Death With Dignity Act,” which 29-year-old cancer patient Brittany Maynard utilized in 2014 to end her life. She had written to followers prior to her death that she wanted them to push other states to permit people to kill themselves under similar circumstances.
“As my time draws closer, I hope you will all take up my request to carry on this work, and support [my family and friends] as they carry on my legacy,” she wrote.
Maynard, who was diagnosed with Glioblastoma multiforme, said that she rejected treatment options because they would impact her “quality of life,” and also decided not to pursue hospice care because she did not want her family to watch her suffer.
But a number of those who heard Maynard’s story, including those who were struggling with terminal illnesses themselves, tried to reach out to the young woman and urge her not to take her death into her own hands.
“Brittany, I ache for you and your family. I pray that your tumor will make a miraculous change for the better. And if that does not happen, I pray that whenever you pass away, you know the Lord,” wrote wife and mother Heather Laurie, who suffers from mitochondrial disease. “I choose to die with dignity. The dignity of awaiting the Lord’s timing. When He calls, I shall with great joy join Him in Heaven and leave behind the pain and suffering this body had developed, but I will not allow one second to be shaved off of that life because I am scared.”
As previously reported, until now, Colorado outlawed aiding in one’s death, criminalizing the act as felony manslaughter. After failed attempts in the legislature to legalize assisted suicide, a ballot initiative was put forward for the people to vote on the matter.
The Compassion and Choices Action Network, which had backed the ballot initiative, cheered Tuesday’s outcome.
“This is a historic day for all Coloradans, and an especially tremendous victory for terminally ill adults who worry about horrific suffering in their final days,” President Barbara Coombs Lee said in a statement. “We are delighted the significant investment paid off and are proud to have lent the expertise and resources to empower the voters of Colorado.”
But others expressed disappointment.
“We are deeply disappointed and concerned about Colorado legalizing doctor-assisted suicide,” Jeff Hunt, vice president of public policy for Colorado Christian University, told reporters Tuesday night. “The fight is not over.”
As previously reported, there are five other 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.