Colorado’s Medical Aid in Dying Initiative has officially gained enough signatures to make it onto the November ballot.
Secretary of State Wayne Williams has confirmed that supporters of the measure collected more than 150 thousand valid signatures, far beyond the 98,492 needed to qualify.
The measure, also known as Initiative 145, seeks to allow any “mentally capable Colorado resident who has a medical prognosis of death by terminal illness within six months” to receive a doctor’s prescription for medication to bring about death.
Interested, qualified patients would be able to self-administer the medication, but the state would require two licensed physicians to confirm each patient’s medical prognosis.
A licensed mental health professional’s evaluation would also be required if one or both physicians believe a patient isn’t mentally capable of making such a choice. Patients would also be required to receive comprehensive information about alternative care and treatment options.
If voters pass the measure in November, Colorado will become the sixth state in America to allow physician aid in dying efforts, joining Washington, Vermont, Oregon Montana and California.
Aid in dying advocacy groups believe that the initiative, which is modeled after the 1997 Oregon Death With Dignity Act, will be good for patients.
“Our vision is a society where people receive state-of-the-art care and a full range of choices for dying in comfort, dignity and control,” national group Compassion and Choices writes on its website. “At the state level, we work to pass and then implement aid in dying laws so that mentally capable, terminally ill adults have access to all end-of-life options.”
But detractors, particularly disability rights activists, disagree.
“It’s an unfortunate day for Colorado,” said Carrie Ann Lucas, an activist and a board member of the Colorado chapter of the national group Not Dead Yet.
Lucas worries the initiative could have negative consequences for Colorado, a state with one of the highest suicide rates in the nation. “It is Colorado, not California,” she said. “And we need our own solutions for healthcare.”
Lucas also worries about the potential harm such a measure could inflict on vulnerable populations.
A patient with progressive muscular dystrophy herself, she thinks that people with disabilities could be targeted to receive “aid in dying” instead of other adequate, long term treatments and healthcare plans.
“It is a cheap alternative for us,” said Lucas.
[Photo credit: Seattle Municipal Archives, via Creative Commons on Flickr]