‘Death With Dignity’ defeated after hours of emotional testimony

February 7, 2015
Photo: End Of Life, Death With Dignity Testimony, Carrie Ann Lucas
Carrie Ann Lucas, right, a lawyer with significant disabilities, was among those testifying against the "Death With Dignity" bill on Feb. 7, 2015.

A House committee heard from numerous people with fatal diseases, asking to be able to control the time of their passing. In the end, the bill was voted down by a 8-5 margin, with two Democrats joining Republicans to defeat the measure.

"I think I deserve the right to die when and where and how I choose, once my condition becomes terminal," said Dave Hibbard, a hospice physician suffering from Parkinson’s and leukemia.

However, numerous people with disabilities testified in opposition, worried that families and health care companies might push them toward ending their lives, to get out of paying for costly care.

"There isn’t a way to have adequate safeguards and avoid discrimination," said Julie Reiskin, who heads the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition.

The legislation in part:

...authorizes an individual with a terminal illness to request, and the individual's attending physician to prescribe to the individual for self-administration by ingestion, life-ending medication intended to hasten the individual's death.

And also says:

Any person who participates in the life-ending process, including a physician who prescribes life-ending medication to an individual with a terminal illness, is protected from civil and criminal liability and professional disciplinary action if the physician or other person acts in good-faith compliance with the requirements of the act.

The two sides don’t even agree on what to call the bill – backers call it the "Colorado Death With Dignity Act," while opponents call it assisted suicide.

Five states allow patients to seek aid in dying.

Editor's note: Julie Reiskin's name was spelled incorrectly in an earlier version of this story. We regret the error.