Fast facts about Proposition 106: Physician-assisted suicide

Roxanne King

Proposition 106 on the November ballot seeks to legalize physician-assisted suicide in Colorado. Here’s what you need to know about this dangerous initiative, which the Colorado bishops have called “illogical” and “flawed.”

Euphemistically titled “Medical Aid in Dying” on the ballot, Proposition 106 would allow any “mentally capable” adult Coloradan with a terminal illness and a prognosis of six months or less to live, to get a prescription from a doctor for medication to commit suicide. The Colorado Catholic Conference, the state-level public policy arm of the Church, urges Catholics to vote no on this measure for the following reasons.

Immoral

Catholic teaching prohibits suicide as going against God’s commandment to not kill.

Illogical

The Colorado bishops call Proposition 106 “illogical” because Colorado has the seventh highest suicide rate in the nation, which led lawmakers to found a suicide prevention commission in 2014 and a state office this year to implement a “zero suicide” plan. The bishops wrote: “it is illogical for the state to promote and/or facilitate suicide for one group of persons — calling the suicides of those with a terminal illness and a specific prognosis ‘dignified and humane,’ while recognizing suicide as a serious statewide public health concern in all other circumstances, and spending enormous resources to combat it.”

Flawed

No medical help: Although called “Medical Aid in Dying” the only aid a medical professional provides in this measure is the prescription, as the patient must self-administer the deadly medicine—and no medical professional is required to be there when the patient passes.

Prognosis error: A Johns Hopkins University study found that medical errors are the third-leading cause of death in the United States. Archbishop Samuel Aquila noted in column: “Proposition 106 must be opposed because it will open the door for people … to kill themselves based off of guesses made by doctors that are often wrong. Having assisted suicide in our state will also create a culture that discourages advances in compassionate palliative and hospice care, and crucially, it will shorten the window for God’s grace to act as people prepare to meet their maker.”

No expert opinion: although the measure says a person has to be mentally competent to get the prescription, any doctor can determine that competence—there is no requirement that it must be a psychiatrist or psychologist.

Falsifies cause of death: Proposition 106 mandates that physicians or coroners lie on the death certificate and say that the person died of the disease from which they were suffering.

Inform yourself about the dangers of Proposition 106 by attending one of these events:

October 10, 7:00 – 9:00 pm
Theology on Tap – Fatally Flawed: Assisted Suicide and Prop 106
The Irish Snug, 1201 E. Colfax Ave. #100, Denver

October 13, 6:30 pm
No on Prop 106 – Info Session
Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Parish, 11385 Grant Dr., Northglenn
(303) 452-2041

For more information about Proposition 106, visit archden.org/life

COMING UP: Church leaders: Proposition 106 offers flawed logic, false compassion

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Colorado’s bishops say Proposition 106 is simply “illogical.”

The state’s suicide rate is the seventh highest in the nation, which led lawmakers to found a prevention commission in 2014 and a state office this year to implement a “zero suicide” plan. Yet Proposition 106 on the Nov. 8 ballot seeks to legalize physician assisted suicide.

“It is our hope that the voters of Colorado recognize the flawed logic of those supporting this effort,” the bishops say on the Colorado Catholic Conference website. “Namely that it is illogical for the state to promote and/or facilitate suicide for one group of persons, calling the suicides of those with a terminal illness and a specific prognosis ‘dignified and humane,’ while recognizing suicide as a serious statewide public health concern in all other circumstances, and spending enormous resources to combat it.”

The conference is the state-level, public policy agency of the Church. Through it Denver’s Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila and Bishop-elect Jorge Rodriguez, Colorado Springs Bishop Michael Sheridan and Pueblo Bishop Stephen Berg, speak with a united voice.

“It’s disingenuous and hard to believe that Colorado voters would want to do anything that would promote what is already a horrible epidemic the state faces,” said conference executive director Jenny Kraska.

Proposition 106 would allow any “mentally capable” adult Coloradan with a terminal illness and a prognosis of six months or less to live, to get a prescription from a doctor for medication to kill themselves.

“It’s a bad piece of legislation,” Kraska said. “It has bad ramifications for Colorado, its families, the poor and vulnerable. It’s rife with problems.”

[…] It is illogical for the state to promote and/or facilitate suicide for one group of persons, calling the suicides of those with a terminal illness and a specific prognosis ‘dignified and humane,’ while recognizing suicide as a serious statewide public health concern in all other circumstances, and spending enormous resources to combat it.”

Among them is that while the ballot initiative says a person has to be mentally competent to get the prescription, that competence can be determined by any doctor.

“It doesn’t have to be a psychologist,” Kraska explained. “It doesn’t even have to be their doctor—it can be anybody who has any type of medical degree. That’s extraordinarily troublesome.”

And while Colorado’s physician assisted suicide act is for the terminally ill, passing such a law could be the start down a slippery slope as evidenced by places where it’s legal.

“Physician assisted suicide started in Belgium and the Netherlands with the intent for people at the end-of-life,” Kraska said. “Now it’s turned into euthanasia for children of any age, and euthanasia and assisted suicide for almost any reason at all.”

Catholic teaching prohibits suicide as going against God’s commandment to not kill.

“The bishops of Colorado have been very clear on this issue,” Kraska said. “This is not something (the Church) will ever support. We also recognize the great suffering some people go through at the end of their life. … But the compassionate answer is not to just commit suicide, the compassionate answer is, let’s have a discussion about what is available for people at the end of their life, like hospice and palliative care.

“With today’s medical advances,” she added, “there is no reason for anyone to be in excruciating pain.”

Prop 106 site

Proposition 106 seeks to legalize physician-assisted suicide in the state of Colorado. The website votenoprop106.com allows people to pledge to vote “no” on Proposition 106, which the website calls a “fatally flawed measure.”

In their statement on assisted suicide, the US bishops promote hospice and palliative care as solutions that affirm a person’s human dignity and value and offer true compassion by meeting their physical, emotional and spiritual needs at the end of life, rather than abandoning them to suicide.

Those opposed to assisted suicide include medical professionals who see it as going against their mission to heal, and disability rights advocates who see it as a threat to their dignity and right to life.

Windsor resident Carrie Ann Lucas, an attorney and founder of Disabled Parents’ Rights and board member of Not Dead Yet, wrote a guest column in The Denver Post about her opposition.

“I have a terminal condition — very much like ALS — and if assisted suicide were legal, I would qualify. This legislation directly threatens me, my family and my community. Much like terminally ill patients, we are vulnerable and can see how legalizing assisted suicide puts us at risk. That’s why most disability organizations oppose legalization of assisted suicide.

“In a profit-driven health care system,” she continued, “people will die needlessly when insurance companies refuse to pay for necessary medications and equipment, and instead offer to pay for a much cheaper lethal prescription. We’ve already seen that happen in Oregon, where this is legal. We know that suicide is cheaper than treatment.”

Kraska cautions people to not be fooled by the euphemisms “end-of-life options,” “medical aid in dying” or “death with dignity” used by the ballot initiative supporters “to mask what it is—assisted suicide.”
“True death with dignity is allowing nature to take its course in a natural way,” Kraska said. “Not feeling compelled to take your life.”

For More Information

Visit www.cocatholicconference.org and www.votenoprop106.com