State lawmakers introduce 'death with dignity' bill, allowing terminally ill to choose when they die

Opponents say it is facilitating suicide

DENVER - Colorado lawmakers introduced legislation that would allow the terminally ill to decide when they die, with the help of a doctor.                             

House and Senate democrats announced details of the “death with dignity” bill at the State Capitol on Tuesday. Under the act, patients would be required to get a sign-off from two doctors saying they’re terminally ill and within six months of dying. They must also be found mentally competent and be able to give themselves the life-ending medication.

“He had no dignity what so ever, we had to lift him from his bed, change his diaper, what dignity is that?” asked Katherine Sanchez-Laughlin at the rally on Tuesday.

Sanchez-Laughlin’s father died at age 84, after a yearlong battle with ALS.

“He said I’ve had a good life, I’m ready to die,” she explained. "At that time you can see in his eyes, let me die, but there's nothing you could do."

Sanchez-Laughlin said it was how he died, that changed her stance on right-to-die legislation.

 “We watched my father die a horrible death that I would not wish upon my worst enemy and that changed my mind,” she said.

Lynda Parker also supports the bill. She lost her mother to cancer last year and said her mother suffered longer than she wanted.

"If she had, had the option when she was diagnosed, she would have used the option to have a much more compassionate, cognizant death,” said Parker.

Religious groups oppose such laws because they view them as facilitating suicide.

“Not Dead Yet,” a national disability organization is also against the bill.

"People with disabilities, seniors, sick people can be coerced. This opens the door to be coerced to take your own life,” said “Not Dead Yet” Board Member Anita Cameron.

Cameron is nearly blind, has multiple sclerosis and suffers from a condition called cerebellar ataxia. She believes it puts others at risk.  

"I feel for those people who are suffering, but there are ways to end their suffering if they want to that don't involve putting this into law,” she said.

Advocates for right-to-die legislation, including Sanchez-Laughlin, believe people like her father, need a say.

“Some may choice it, some may choice not to, but it’s their choice,” she said.

Five other states have passed similar legislation including – Oregon, Washington, Montana, Vermont and New Mexico.

The bill is scheduled to be heard in committee within the next two weeks. Right now, it only has democratic support.

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