Colorado voters will be asked whether they want to legalize doctor-assisted suicide in November, and while opponents admit they have an uphill fight, they’re passionately fighting against ushering in what one leading activist calls “a whole parade of terribles.”
On Nov. 8, ballots across Colorado will include Proposition 106, which would legally permit doctors to prescribe drugs that terminally ill patients could take to end their lives. The full text is here.
Jeff Hunt is director of the Centennial Institute at Colorado Christian University. He told WND and Radio America, on the surface, the case for approving doctor-assisted suicide seems strong by allowing people to decide for themselves when and how to end their lives or at least leave that option open to their neighbors.
But Hunt said the reality of doctor-assisted suicide is much darker than its proponents would have Americans believe.
“Doctor-assisted suicide is a very, very, very bad deal for Colorado,” he said. “In almost every case, where doctor-assisted suicide is legal, it moves from what is generally called a right to die to a duty to die.”
He said former Gov. Richard Lamm, who served from 1975 to 1987, made that very argument in stark terms three decades ago.
“Our former governor, Dick Lamm, said back in the ’80s people need to understand they’re no longer worthy to be in this world, that they’re worthless and they need to go and that they have a duty to die. That is terrifying,” Hunt said.
On March 27, 1984, Lamm stated: “[Elderly people who are terminally ill] have got a duty to die and get out of the way. Let the other society, our kids, build a reasonable life.”
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While assisted-suicide advocates paint the practice as the ultimate act of personal liberty, the reality gets far more complicated.
“They think it’s a personal decision, but in every case where this is legalized, you are inviting government and you’re inviting insurance companies to get involved in this decision and that is a very, very bad deal,” Hunt explained.
He said that is not theory but proven fact. Oregon is one of a few states that allows doctor-assisted suicide. He said the realities there are very troubling.
“What we’ve seen happen in Oregon is the state-based medicaid system get involved with end-of-life decisions,” Hunt said. “They would send letters to terminally ill cancer patients saying, ‘We’re not going to pay the $4,000 per month required for you to stay alive, but we’ll pay the $100 for you to kill yourself.'”
Another argument in favor of doctor-assisted suicide is that it mainly happens at the very end of life when the pain becomes unbearable. Hunt said the facts simply don’t bear that out.
“What the research actually shows is that most people who choose doctor-assisted suicide do it out of depression or they’re afraid because of their lack of mobility, their quality of life,” he said.
Hunt said in places like the Netherlands, physically healthy young people access doctor-assisted suicide over relationships gone bad or the loss of a job. Proposition 106 specifically requires a patients to be given six months or less to live, but Hunt said that’s a problem, too.
“That’s problematic in itself because Harvard has found that about 20 percent of those diagnoses are wrong,” Hunt noted. “One in five people will outlive that six months.”
He said the push for doctor-assisted suicide is especially horrifying for the disabled and those with special needs.
“If you look at the organizations that are trying to stop this, it is primarily led by the disabled community,” Hunt said. “They understand what this is creating in the law. This is creating an entire classification of people that can be killed or choose to be killed.”
Hunt admits Colorado’s libertarian streak that legalized recreational marijuana in recent years makes this a tough ballot initiative to fight, but he said it is essential voters learn the truth at VoteNoProp106.org and elsewhere.
“We should be investing in great palliative care and good hospice care because doctor-assisted suicide brings with it a whole parade of terribles that we do not want in our society,” Hunt said.