HB16-1054 And Why CCDC Opposes this Bill

Submitted by Jose Torres-Vega on February 4, 2016 - 5:58pm

Summary of HB16-1054 --by Kenny Maestas


HB 1054 – Physician Assisted Suicide: CCDC opposes this bill!

HB 1054: To allow physician assisted suicide is being heard tomorrow [February 4, 2016] in House Judiciary.

-          The CCDC board debated HB 1054 in a tough discussion.

-          This was not an easy decision.

-          This is not about whether or not we think assisted (or even unassisted) suicide is right or wrong.


REMEMBER: It is crucial that people who are suicidal are never shamed or made to feel bad about themselves. This is a very personal journey and judging people is always a bad idea. Anyone feeling suicidal should always be given full support, empathy and care.

CCDC opposes HB 1054 because there is no way to avoid discrimination in implementation.

-          Concern about Coercion: Anyone with a cognitive, psychiatric or communication disability could be stopped from receiving this ‘Assistance.’ If this is a ‘right’ then these individuals must be included!

-          What about someone with cancer and clinical depression? Would HB 1054 make Assisted Suicide inaccessible to those that claim to need and/or want it the most?

-          Concern about Availability: If Assisted Suicide is made available to anyone, it would be very easy to roll down the slippery slope [as has occurred] of convincing people to take this assistance when that might not be the actual wish of the individual.

CCDC [2015] asked sponsors to require a psychiatric evaluation for anyone seeking Assisted Suicide. We thought that it wise to insure individuals were not in the throes of a situational depression, and that they fully understood the finality of this action.

-          Sponsors said: Due to the lack of availability of mental health providers this would not be feasible.

-          We do understand there is a shortage of mental health providers…

-          But, we know from experience that making an irreversible decision in the middle of a trauma is not a good idea.

Finally, we know [more than most] that medical predictions are often wrong. Even our own beliefs about what life is like living with an illness or disability are almost always wrong.

No one wants to become ill or develop a disability. But when it happens most of us come to realize it is not so bad and that life can be good.

-          Our opposition to this bill in no way means that we oppose hospice or think everyone should be forced to take every medical treatment available.

-          We completely support the right of competent adults [legal guardians] to decide ‘enough is enough’ and to stop aggressive treatment when dealing with a painful or difficult illness.

-          Stopping treatment, even getting ‘terminal sedation’ at the end of life is very different from physician assisted suicide.

-          Treatment can always be resumed, but once someone has been assisted to die there are no decisions to be made.

-          If someone is truly ready for their time on this planet to be over they will not seek to resume treatment.

 

Hearing is at 1:30 tomorrow in front of the House Judiciary Committee. CCDC Vice President Josh Winkler will be testifying against this bill.

________________________________________________________________________________

This bill which will allow physician assisted suicide is being heard in the House Judiciary. We know this is a tough bill.  When the CCDC board debated our position on this issue it was not an easy discussion.  Some members of the CCDC Board personally believe that physician assisted suicide should be a right, others believe the exact opposite and feel it is always wrong.   The reason we OPPOSE the bill is not about whether or not we think assisted (or even unassisted) suicide is right or wrong.

First it is important that people who are suicidal are never shamed or made to feel bad about themselves.   That is a very personal journey and judging people is always a bad idea.  People who are feeling suicidal should always be given full support, empathy and care.

The reason we oppose this bill is that there is no way to avoid discrimination in the implementation.

Based on concern about coercion one can bar anyone with a cognitive, psychiatric or communication disability from receiving this "assistance".  If this is a "right" then should not these individuals have the ability to access this also?   What about someone with cancer and clinical depression?  Moreover, this then makes it inaccessible to those that claim to need and want it most desperately.   On the other hand if we make it available to anyone then it would be very easy to roll down the slippery slope (as has happened elsewhere) to convincing people to take this assistance when that might now be the wish of the individual.

Last year in discussion with the sponsors we asked if there could be a required psychiatric evaluation for anyone before getting this lethal assistance.  We thought that it would be wise to assure that someone was not in the throes of a situational depression, and that they fully understood the finality of this action.   It was chilling to hear the
sponsors tell us that due to the lack of availability of mental health providers that this would not be feasible.   We do understand that there is a shortage of mental health providers ... However we also know from experience that making an irreversible decision in the middle of a trauma is not a good idea.

Finally, we know more than most that medical predictions are often wrong and that our own beliefs about what life will be like living with an illness or disability are almost always wrong.   No one wants to become ill or develop a disability--but when it happens most of us come to realize it is not so bad and that life can indeed be good.

Our opposition to this bill in no way means that we oppose hospice or think that everyone should be forced to take every medical treatment available.  We completely support the right of competent adults or legal guardians to decide "enough is enough" and to stop aggressive treatment when dealing with a painful or otherwise difficult illness. Stopping treatment, even getting "terminal sedation" at the end of life is very different from physician assisted suicide.    Someone that stops treatment can always
decide to resume--but once someone has been assisted to die there are no more decisions to be made.   If someone is truly ready for their time on this planet to be over they will not seek to resume treatment.

Anyway, the hearing is at in front of the House Judiciary Committee.   CCDC Vice President Josh Winkler will be testifying against this bill.


Sincerely,

Julie Reiskin,  Executive Director
Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition
*1385 S. Colorado Blvd. Suite 610-A   Denver, CO 80222*
Direct Line 720-961-4261
Direct Private Fax 303-567-6582
Organizational Line 303-839-1775
Organizational Fax 303-648-6262
Legal Program's Fax 720-420-1390

 

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