Disability Activists from Not Dead Yet and other Colorado organizations to Testify in Opposition to Colorado Assisted Suicide Bill

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Carrie Anne Lucas (970) 518-7036

Disability Activists from Not Dead Yet and other Colorado organizations to Testify in Opposition to Colorado Assisted Suicide Bill

For Immediate Release:
A cross section of Coloradans will be testifying before state legislative committees (February 3 Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs and February 4 House Judiciary) in opposition to SB 16-25 and HB 16-1054 which would legalize physician assisted suicide in the state. The group called Not Dead Yet opposes assisted suicide as a deadly form of discrimination against old, ill and disabled people. Citizen opponents to the bills represent the medical, disability, legal, hospice and patient communities.

“Cases of elder abuse, and the abuse of people with disabilities, are on the rise. This legislation makes it legal for an impatient heir or abusive caregiver to steer someone towards suicide,” said Carrie Ann Lucas, a Colorado attorney and Not Dead Yet board member. ”  The heir or caregiver can legally witness the request, pick up the lethal dose from the pharmacy and even give the drug to the individual. No witnesses are required at the death, so who would know if someone is coerced or even drugged without their consent?” The limited so-called protections in the bill are nullified by the blanket immunity granted to all participants.

“In today’s financially driven health care system, patients’ needs are routinely squeezed out for sake of the bottom line.  The assisted suicide bill will hand the government and large insurance companies a cheap and quick alternative to compassionate end of life care,” said Dr. Bill Bolthouse, a physician at the Denver Inner City Health Center.  “What pressure will come to bear on patients who quickly realize that death by suicide is almost free?  Will families and doctors direct patients toward the best choice, or the cheapest one?  Caring physicians and those who want to uphold the rights of the poor, elderly and disabled should oppose this bill as they are the most vulnerable to the abuses that will come and that have already been seen in Oregon and Europe where this is practiced.”

Lora Thomas, former Douglas County Coroner said, “Advocates for assisted suicide claim there are no abuses in Oregon, where it is legal.  However, Oregon only allows a skeleton of information to be collected, so we really don’t know what is happening there.  What we do know is that Oregon insurance plans have refused to pay for patient treatment and instead offered to pay for suicide.  Will Colorado lawmakers protect our vulnerable citizens or put them at risk by passing this bill?” Unlike Oregon, the Colorado bill allows for no data collection.

Colorado’s suicide rate is among the highest in the nation. This bill will promote suicide to one class of disabled citizens, rather than provide suicide prevention.  That is discrimination.”

Lucas pointed out, “Everyone has the right to refuse or stop further medical treatment.  People also have the right to receive palliative sedation to alleviate pain.  Assisted suicide is simply not necessary.”