End-of-Life Options Act Makes Colorado Ballot
Our friends at the Yes on Colorado End-of-Life Options campaign – who are being supported by both Compassion & Choices and the Compassion & Choices Action Network – succeeded in collecting enough valid signatures to get the End-of-Life Option Act on the 2016 ballot. Secretary of State Wayne Williams announced on August 15 that Coloradans will be able to vote in November for the measure, which would allow terminally ill, mentally capable adults who are Colorado residents to request medication from their doctor that they can choose to self-administer to shorten their dying process if suffering becomes unbearable.
“Today we are one step closer to ensuring that Coloradans have control over all of their healthcare decisions when facing terminal illness,” said Julie Selsberg, co-petitioner of the measure. “End-of-life decisions are very intimate and personal. This proposal encourages more discussion between patients and doctors about the patient’s end-of-life wishes, and allows doctors who wish to provide this very compassionate care the ability to do so. “
Selsberg was at her father’s side as he slowly died from Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) and helped him write an open letter to Colorado lawmakers asking them to authorize medical aid in dying.
A victory in November would make Colorado the sixth state to authorize this medical practice. Research shows that an overwhelming majority of Coloradans believes such an option should be available for those who want it.
The measure is modeled after Oregon legislation that has been in place for nearly 20 years and continues to work as intended, without any instances of abuse or fraud. Like Oregon, the Colorado measure includes requirements to protect against misuse. To be eligible, a person must:
- Be over 18
- Be in the final stages of a terminal illness, as confirmed by a second opinion
- Be of sound mind
- Self-administer the medication
- Make two oral requests separated by a 15-day waiting period and a third written request signed by at least two witnesses
“End-of-life decisions are best left to dying people consulting their families, their faith and their doctors – not the government,” said Jessica Grennan, campaign manager of the Yes on Colorado End-of-Life Options effort. “This proposal takes government out of these personal decisions and allows patients to make their own choices about their life based on their health, their family’s input and their personal religious beliefs.”
The total number of signatures needed for placement on the ballot was 98,492; the Yes on Colorado End-of-Life Options team submitted 155,676 – more than 110% the minimum requirement.