Dying with Dignity

thColorado recently rejected a proposal to let terminally ill patients choose to end their lives. Dying patients would have been required to have two physicians sign off on written and verbal requests to end their lives. The patients would need to be able to administer the medication themselves and be found mentally competent.

Only five states have passed a similar legislation- Washington, Montana, Vermont, New Mexico and Oregon. Colorado’s bill would have been based on Oregon’s right-to-die law where 29 year old Brittany Maynard chose that option. More states have started to consider a death with dignity law after hearing Maynard’s story. Maynard was diagnosed with brain cancer in January 2014. In April, 2014 her diagnosis elevated to glioblastoma with six months to live. After months of research, Maynard came to conclusion she would end her life in Oregon with the help of the death with dignity law. Maynard and her family uprooted from California to Oregon where Maynard passed away November 1, 2014. Since Maynard’s death four other states have had pending proposals for the right-to-die law; Colorado (which was recently rejected), Pennsylvania, Wyoming, and California (where Maynard is originally from).

There were mixed feelings about the bill as some people thought the bill would facilitate suicide and take away the patient’s hope for a possible recovery. Others were supporters of the bill saying it is a very personal choice for the patients and terminally patients should be able to choose when and how they die.

Lawmakers had concerns about whether abuse can be prevented by approving a right-to-die law. Family members of the terminally ill patient may try to speak with physicians on behalf of the dying relative even if it’s not what the terminally ill patient wants. If a terminally ill person acquires the medications through proper channels but decided not to take the medication, are there ways to discard the medication so another family member can’t take the prescribed medication?

by Brittney Jones, Paralegal

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