Late Friday night after more than 10 hours of gut wrenching testimony, right to die legislation was postponed indefinitely (read: killed) in a bipartisan 8-5 vote. The bill would have given terminal patients the option for medical help to end their lives. The bill pitted terminally ill patients against other terminally ill patients plus the disability community.
While some terminally ill patients testified to their desire to die with dignity, the disability community was particularly concerned that the law could be abused by health insurers or caretakers and others who would “benefit” from the death of a patient requiring costly or intensive care.
The Denver Post cited one disabled woman, who had concerns about the bill:
“From her motorized wheelchair, Carrie Ann Lucas of Windsor cited the high cost of treatment for illnesses such as hers, a form of muscular dystrophy that would be terminal within hours if she lost the use of the ventilator.
If insurance companies choose not to pay for expensive medical equipment or treatments, patients could be coaxed into a “much cheaper lethal prescription,” she said.”
Democratic Rep. Dianne Primavera explained her “no” vote, drawing on her own breast cancer diagnosis nearly 30 years ago:
“Tearfully telling her colleagues she was a cancer survivor, Democratic Rep. Dianne Primavera recalled how a doctor told her she wouldn’t live more than five years.
But she found a doctor who gave her a different opinion.
‘And he took me in his care, and I am here today 28 years later,’ she said.”
Despite the bill death, the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Joann Ginal (D-Ft. Collins), vowed to run it again in 2016, saying:
“I have to take all my notes from the testimony and see how we can make more folks feel comfortable with this bill. Right now, it is in my plans to bring back a better, stronger bill next year.”
Currently, five states have “Right to Die” legislation, including Oregon, Washington, Montana, Vermont, and New Mexico. California and Pennsylvania are considering similar legislation.