Colorado becomes 5th state to OK medically assisted suicide
DENVER — Colorado voters on Tuesday approved a bill to let terminally ill people end their own lives, making it the fifth state to approve medically assisted suicide.
Proposition 106 was modeled after Oregon’s medically assisted suicide bill, which was passed in 1997.
It requires that a mentally competent patient have a six-month prognosis and get two doctors to sign off on three requests for life-ending medication. Doctors must discuss alternatives with the patient. It also calls for tracking and mandatory disposal of lethal drugs if a patient changes his or her mind.
In Oregon, an estimated one-third of patients who requested life-ending drugs after that state’s law went into effect in 1997 never used them, according to Compassion and Choices, which lobbied for the measure.
A terminally ill patient in Colorado must be able to administer the drugs on their own, and doctors must report annually to the state about each case in which life-ending drugs are prescribed.
Voters approved the measure after the Legislature rejected similar attempts in the past two years.
Washington, Vermont and California also have passed medically-assisted-suicide laws. Montana’s state Supreme Court has ruled that doctors can use a patient’s request for life-ending medication as a defense against any criminal charges linked to a death.
Opponents, including the Catholic and Mormon churches, argued that the proposal would facilitate doctor-assisted suicide, especially after mistaken terminal diagnoses. They insisted that hospice and palliative care for the dying is sufficient.