Colorado lawmakers decline to pass assisted suicide bill

Colorado lawmakers decline to pass assisted suicide bill

[JURIST] Colorado lawmakers on Friday declined to pass a bill [HB 15-1135, PDF] that would have permitted medically assisted suicide for terminally-ill patients. If Colorado had enacted this law, it would have required two physicians to confirm that a patient was terminally ill. Further, patients would have been required to submit verbal and written statements regarding their intentions and would have had to self-administer the lethal medication. A patient suffering from multiple disabilities expressed her opinion to reporters [Reuters report] that the proposal lacked adequate safeguards, stating that, “[d]octors often make mistakes on whether someone is terminal or not.” However, a survey conducted in Colorado indicated that 68 percent of the state’s residents supported the bill. The so-called “Death with Dignity” bill was terminated by the House of Representatives Public Health Care and Human Services Committee [official website].

The right to die [JURIST news archive] has been a contentious issue in the US and around the world. In 2006 the US Supreme Court upheld Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act [JURIST report], making Oregon the only US state that allowed assisted suicide at that time. Vermont, Washington, New Mexico and Montana also allow assisted suicide. Earlier this week the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the country’s ban [JURIST report] on medically assisted suicide. Also this week a group of patients and doctors filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] in a New York court requesting a declaration that physician-assisted suicide is not illegal under New York state law. Last month California lawmakers proposed [JURIST report] a similar bill. The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled in 2013 that a state law criminalizing speech [JURIST report] that “advises” and “encourages” another’s suicide is unconstitutional.