Thursday, February 12, 2015

The death of physician-assisted suicide in Colorado

Excerpted from Colorado lawmakers vote down assisted suicide bill,” Reuters. February 7, 2015 — After 10 hours of emotional testimony and debate, Colorado lawmakers late on Friday voted down a proposed assisted-suicide law that would have allowed terminally-ill patients to end their lives with prescription drugs.

By an 8-to-5 bipartisan vote, the so-called "Death with Dignity" bill was rejected by the Public Health and Human Services Committee in the state's House of Representatives. The measure was sponsored by two Democratic lawmakers.

The Colorado proposal would have required two physicians to verify that the patient is terminal, had made both verbal and written statements of their intentions, and was able to self-administer the lethal medications. Hundreds packed the committee room in Denver, as lawmakers heard testimony from both advocates and opponents of the measure. A poll conducted last month by Colorado pollster Talmey-Drake Research showed 68 percent of state residents surveyed favored the bill.


Natalie DeckerAlliance Defending Freedom Legal Counsel Natalie Decker: “The bill Colorado legislators rejected sought to override a historic governmental commitment that has existed since the beginning of time: preserve and protect human life. Alliance Defending Freedom highlighted in testimony the numerous problems with the proposed law. The bill lacked safeguards to prevent abuse and mistakes which would have resulted in people being killed without their consent. Indeed, there could never be adequate safeguards.

“Despite assertions to the contrary, the bill did not require lethal drugs to be ‘self-administered,’ nor did it even define what that term meant. In fact, the bill provided no oversight of lethal drugs once dispensed, nor did it require consent, legal capacity to consent or the presence of any witnesses (not even the attending physician) during the administration of the lethal drugs. In addition, the bill defined ‘terminal’ illness or disease broadly and arbitrarily. Understandably, some of the bill’s proponents presented emotional, heartrending stories to which any compassionate person can relate. Those cases are very rare, however, particularly given the high quality of healthcare and technology in our nation.

“Many Coloradans from diverse backgrounds and perspectives told their legislators why they opposed physician-assisted suicide. Their testimony was based on a sound and rational analysis of the facts and the law.

“The poll referenced by Mr. Coffman was commissioned by Compassion & Choices (formerly known as the Hemlock Society), the organization promoting the bill. The questions C&C asked were based on false premises, which resulted in skewed responses. It is highly unlikely that anyone asked directly if doctors should be permitted to kill their patients would respond ‘yes.’ Indeed, that is why the Legislature voted ‘no.’

“It is a hallmark of our society to expect healthcare professionals, as well as the legal system, to protect its more vulnerable members—the elderly, the infirm, infants and the disabled. The Colorado Legislature rightly rejected the idea that our state and its healthcare professionals should be agents of death instead of protectors of life.”

Editor’s Note: CMDA staff and CMDA Colorado State Representative Dr. James Small participated in the coalition Coloradans Against Physician Assisted Suicide which developed educational tools and strategies as well as obtaining testimonies at the hearing.

Late Breaking News: SB 202 (to legalize assisted suicide in Montana) was tabled in Montana. CMDA State Representative Dr. David Hafer and his wife Bobbie have labored continuously and provided leadership in opposing PAS for the last six years after a Montana judge ruled PAS was legal. CMDA members who gave testimony at the hearing this week were Dr. David and Bobbie Hafer, Drs. Chris and Jennifer Gilbert and Dr. Annie Bukacek. In addition, CMDA members Dr. Samuel Reck, Dr. Dennis Dietrich and Dr. Rick Blevins provided written testimony.

Action Item

We praise God for His faithfulness in defeating physician-assisted suicide in Colorado. Unfortunately, more than 25 states in the U.S. are now considering legislation to legalize this dangerous practice. We need your help. If your state is included on this list of state legislative issues, will you join in your local state efforts to help stem the tide and defeat physician-assisted suicide? Contact to get involved. Resources

Physician-Assisted Suicide Fact Sheet
CMDA’s Physician-Assisted Suicide Ethics Statement
Ongoing State Legislative Issues

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