AID-IN-DYING INITIATIVE NOW LAW IN COLORADO
“End of Life Options” took e≠ect as soon as Gov. Hickenlooper signed it Friday.
Gov. John Hickenlooper on Friday signed into law a voter-passed initiative to allow terminally ill adults to end their lives with prescribed medication.
Proposition 106, known as “End of Life Options,” took effect the moment Hickenlooper penned his name.
Hickenlooper, one of five Colorado elected officials to support the measure publicly, said the law gives people a critical choice.
“I’ve seen firsthand the suffering of those at the end of their lives,” he said through a spokeswoman who noted how he had seen friends pass away. “This is about giving the terminally ill the right to make their own decision.”
Voters overwhelmingly passed the measure in November by a 2to-1 margin with more than 1.7 million votes in favor. The aid-in-dying law allows people with a terminal illness with fewer than six months to live to request life-ending prescriptions from their doctor.
“A majority of Coloradans, Americans and physicians recognize medical-aid-in-dying as an end-of-life option that should be available to terminally ill patients,” Denver resident Matt Larson said in a statement.
Diagnosed with brain cancer in May 2015, Larson said the law “means that terminally ill Coloradans can have more open, honest discussions with their doctors about options at the end of their lives. Few Coloradans will actually exercise the option to take medical-aid-in-dying, but countless Coloradans will benefit from the peace of mind of simply having the option.”
Opponents worried that patients are not supervised at the time they ingest the pills, and that the law would create opportunities for fraud and abuse, including family members who could benefit from someone’s premature death.
Proponents of the measure have said they know of a number of people who are already inquiring about how the process will work.
Compassion & Choices, the nation’s largest nonprofit focused on end-of-life care, has helped pass medical-aid-in-dying laws in five other states: California, Montana, Oregon, Vermont and Washington. The group has said it will begin a bilingual education campaign for Colorado patients and medical professionals, including two statewide hotlines that physicians and pharmacists can call for confidential consultation with other professionals.
A request form is available on the nonprofit’s website.
Even though a doctor can prescribe the life-ending medication, health care providers and facilities such as pharmacies are not required to dispense it.