On Wednesday, February 24th the Colorado state House laid over HB 1054 until June. This bill would have legalized assisted suicides in Colorado, making it the 5th state in the nation to allow assisted suicide.
This is the second time in two years that Colorado has prevented a bill for legal assisted suicide.
Pro-life advocates hoped, should the measure be voted out of the predominantly Democrat House, the state Senate would again halt the measure much as it did earlier this month.
Earlier this February, the House Judiciary Committee passed the bill after 10 hours of testimony with all 6 Democrats voting in favor of the bill and all 5 Republicans voting against it.
Many argue that the bill would cause the medical community to abandon the most vulnerable patients.
Dr. Robert Jotte, a Rocky Mountain Cancer Center oncologist, says that the bill would prevent him from providing his patients objective medical treatment objectively. “We can’t as a medical profession give up on these patients.” Jotte urged.
Others are concerned with the problems involved with such a bill.
“My years of experience tell me that the safeguards . . . are unenforceable,” insisted probate attorney Skip Morgan. “The requirement for two witness to witness the actual execution by the patient makes no intonation that those two have any idea of this patient,” he said. Morgan explained that the bill did not prevent an heir from acting as a witness, allowing “someone with a claim, someone who may benefit from their death” to act the part.
Morgan also mentioned the pressure an assisted suicide bill puts on the patients and its subtle promotion of elder abuse. For insurance companies, “the least expensive treatment is to put that patient to death.” These patients begin to see themselves as a burden, even to family, explained Morgan. “’Mom, I love you to death, but how much longer do you want to go on?’”
Attorney Margaret Dore also opposed the bill, arguing the deceptive nature of the bill. “The term ‘aid in dying’ makes you trust this is for the dying. There’s no requirement that people be dying. The bill is sold as choice and control. It’s stacked against the person.”
Dore continued that the medication, often water-soluble, may be “given to a patient without their consent.”
She made reference to the father of a client she’d had who was given the medication, and deciding not to take it, later took it while intoxicated.
In its provisions, the bill states that assisted suicide be recorded as a “natural death resulting from the qualified individual’s terminal illness,” that it does not “constitute suicide, assisted suicide, mercy killing, homicide, or elder abuse under the “Colorado Criminal Code.”
The bill also states that a physician certified death in accordance with the bill “is not reportable and does not constitute grounds for post-mortem inquiry under section 30-10-606 (1), C.R.S. [such as a death that ‘is or may be unnatural as a result of external influences’ and ‘due to the influence of or the result of intoxication by alcohol, drugs or poison’]”
These provisions are concerning to many opposed to the bill, such as the aforementioned Margaret Dore, who referred to the patients as “sitting ducks.”