Eleven hours of heart-wrenching and passionate testimony on a state bill proposing physician-assisted suicide ended Feb. 6 when legislators rejected its passage.
Doctors, clergy, attorneys and people with terminal illnesses and disabilities delivered arguments and personal stories about perspectives on life and death before a vote was taken late that evening.
“What I’ve realized is people on both sides have experienced loss,” said Rep. Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City, before giving a ‘yes’ vote. “This conversation is difficult because none of us exactly know what happens when we leave this earth.”
Lawmakers on the legislative committee voted down the “Death with Dignity” bill 8-5 after a hearing at the Capitol. But some expect the conversation over physician-assisted suicide will be resurrected next session.
Colorado Catholic Conference director Jenny Kraska said Coloradans must remain vigilant.
“The defeat of House Bill 1135 was a great victory for the people of Colorado,” she said in a statement. “But the fight to protect against the legalization of physician-assisted suicide is far from over. Our society will continue to see a push for this legislation all over the country and more than likely we will see it again in Colorado next year, either in the form of legislation, a ballot initiative or both. We must continue to stay vigilant and work to educate and inform our fellow Coloradans about the dangers of this type of legislation.”
She thanked all the people who testified in support of life and debated the true meaning of dignity.
Dr. Tom Newman testified that his son lived and died with dignity, and the bill would have confused the meaning of this.
“This bill dignifies suicide because it redefines it,” he testified to the committee. “The words ‘death with dignity’ is a ploy. It’s a political marketing tool … to sell to the public the comforting idea of physicians’ tacit approval of suicide given by lethal means.”
Kraska said the bill was modeled after the Oregon law that allows physician-assisted suicide and would have threatened the most vulnerable in society, including the elderly and disabled under the guise of “death with dignity.”
It was passed in Oregon in 1994 followed by Washington, Montana, Vermont and New Mexico.
The bill in Colorado was drafted under the guidance of Compassion & Choices, formerly the Hemlock Society, to allow terminally ill residents access to life-ending drugs.
For information on this bill and other legislation, visit www.cocatholicconference.org or call 303-894-8808.