Denver Post: Aid-in-dying measure lacks proper safeguards

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This week, the Denver Post published a powerful editorial that asked voters to reject Proposition 106, a ballot question that would legalize physician-assisted suicide in Colorado. This is the same editorial board that supported similar legislation in the past but now changed their opinion based on significant concerns about the ballot question’s language.

The editorial reiterates the important point made by PAS opponents in Maryland:

“Those facing their final months are in a vulnerable place, a time when an individual is susceptible to pressures both subtle and overt, susceptible to self-imposed guilt over burdening family and worries about spending hard-earned savings on care. Such patients also are susceptible to depression and its dark influences on decision-making.”

In fact, the feeling of being a burden to loved ones is a serious concern surrounding opponents of physician-assisted suicide. It’s particularly concerning because of the lack of protections in the proposed legislation against coercion of our most vulnerable populations such as the disabled and the elderly. The editorial makes this important point in their case against the proposition:

“We worry that the top reasons physicians give for a patient ending a life are easily influenced by those around them and by the care they receive in their final days.”

Right now, polls show a majority of Colorado voters are supporting the measure. But it’s clear that there are still many voters who haven’t heard the full case against the dangers associated with physician-assisted suicide. The editorial also points out that there is no language that would require Colorado to report or track PAS like there is in Oregon. This means there would be no data about the practice after it’s legalized.

The editorial concludes with an important point:

“In the end, despite our desire to support an individual’s right to make this decision, we cannot support a law that would so easily open an irreversible door.”

This proposition is particularly dangerous because it’s irreversible. It’s why nearly all disability advocates are against legalizing this practice; the risks are just too great. When we’re talking about physician-assisted suicide, even one mistake is too many.

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