Colorado’s End-of-Life Options Act
On December 16, 2016, Governor Hickenlooper signed the End-of-Life Options Act, known as the Colorado End-of-Life Options Act,” known as Proposition 106 (2016), making it effective as Colorado’s Death with Dignity Law. Colorado is the sixth state to pass a death with dignity law.
The Act authorizes the medical practice of aid in dying. Medical Aid in dying (also known as death with dignity) is a safe and trusted medical practice because of the eligibility requirements.
Medical aid in dying allows a terminally ill, mentally capable adult who has a prognosis of six months or less to live to obtain and – if- his or her suffering becomes unbearable – self-administer medication that brings about a peaceful death. Eligibility requirements are the same if the adult requests physicians to administer aid in dying medication.
The Colorado End-of-Life Options Act has the same eligibility criteria as Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act, in effect since 1997. To be eligible for aid in dying, the person must meet the following criteria:
- Must be a Colorado adult resident, age 18 or older;
- Must be able to make and communicate an informed decision to health care providers;
- Must have a terminal illness with a prognosis of six months or less to live (terminally ill) that has been confirmed by two physicians, including the individual’s primary physician and a second, consulting physician;
- Must be determined mentally capable by two physicians, who have concluded that the individual understands the consequences of his or her decision and is free from undue influence or coercion;
- Must be fully informed of all their decisions for care, including pain management, palliative care, hospice and comfort care;
- Must voluntarily express his or her wish to receive the medication;
- Two witnesses must sign the request form confirming that the person is mentally capable and the request is voluntary;
- Must be able to take the medication themselves;
- The physician(s) must offer the person multiple opportunities to take back the request for aid in dying medication;
- Wills, contracts, insurance and annuity policies are not affected by a person choosing aid in dying;
The Act was designed to allow physicians, nurses and pharmacists to refuse to offer medical aid in dying and allow health systems to refuse to perform medical aid in dying on their properties. For more information call Disability Law Colorado 1-800-288-1376 or 303-722-0300. All lines voice/TTY.
Compassion & Choices
Compassion & Choices works to ensure healthcare providers honor and enable patients’ decisions about their own care. They advance policies allowing people to make fully informed decisions about their healthcare, such as improving hospice and palliative care and ending unwanted medical treatment, authorizing and implementing medical aid in dying to allow mentally capable adults in their final weeks or months of a terminal disease to advance the time of death and end unbearable suffering. Compassion & Choices works nationwide with state legislatures, Congress, courts, medical centers, and communities. It is their belief and experience that the path to change starts with the individual, which is why patient-centered care stands at the center of all they do. They also provide a free consultation program.
A program of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO), Caring Connections provides free resources to help people make decisions about end-of-life care and services before a crisis. Resources and information include advanced care planning, caregiving, hospice & palliative care, and grief & loss.
Death with Dignity National Center
The Center promotes Death with Dignity laws around the United States, based on the groundbreaking Oregon model, both to provide an option for dying individuals and to stimulate national improvements in end-of-life care. They provide information, education, and support about Death with Dignity as an end-of-life option. Target groups include; patients, families, legislators, advocates, healthcare and end-of-life care professionals, the media and the interested public. The Center mounts a legal defense of physician-assisted dying legislation.
Aging with Dignity
The mission of Aging with Dignity is to safeguard the human dignity of people as they age or face serious illness. They advocate for quality care for those near their death Dignity with Ageing distributes their Five Wishes document, to help people plan in advance of a serious illness. With resources available in 28 different languages, they serve people of diverse cultures and faith traditions. Programs include advocating for public policy that protects the rights of individuals and families, educational workshops and support in the manner of free information and guidance to individuals and families. No individual is ever denied any resources because of an inability to pay even a small amount.