Capitol Conversation: Physician Assisted Suicide

February 2, 2015
Capitol reporter Bente BirkelandCredit D. Utterback
Capitol reporter Bente Birkeland

Democratic lawmakers in Colorado recently introduced a measure to allow terminally ill patients to take medication to end their lives. The patients must be given a prognosis from two different physicians giving them less than six months to live.

Why do supporters say it’s the compassionate choice?

Who strongly opposes it?

Bente Birkeland discusses the proposal with statehouse reporters.

Some key points from the conversation:

Precautions in Place

Ivan Moreno of the Associated PressCredit Bente Birkeland / Rocky Mountain Community Radio
Ivan Moreno of the Associated Press

Ivan Moreno with the Associated Press

“Someone who wants to take advantage of this option needs to have two doctors signing off on it. They have to be determined to be mentally competent. And they have to make a verbal and written request. They must be able to administer this doctor prescribed mediation on their own, so it’s not the doctor doing it.”

Charles Ashby with the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel

“I’ve talked to patients who have known they were going to die and they can’t get anything, and they horded morphine to self take… The point is some patients actually do want this.”

Opposition

Ivan Moreno with the Associated Press

Charles Ashby with the Grand Junction Daily SentinelCredit Bente Birkeland / Rocky Mountain Community Radio
Charles Ashby with the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel

“Religious groups oppose this because they see it as taking away someone’s hope, they argue that sometimes it’s just impossible to know when someone who looks terminally ill, miracles happen. They view life as being sacred from the beginning until the end.”

Charles Ashby with the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel

“Doctors have said that it’s opposite of their normal philosophy of do no harm. And it’s almost a total reversal giving patients something to kill themselves.”