Doctor holding stethoscope

Television ads with heart-rending stories of terminal illnesses were part of an intense campaign last fall to convince Colorado voters to approve an assisted-suicide law, putting the Rocky Mountain state in league with Washington, Oregon, Vermont, Montana and California in allowing the dispensing of fatal doses of drugs.

But assisted suicide supporters – they call it aid-in-dying – are finding that convincing others to carry out their political agenda is another issue.

It turns out that many health-care providers who oppose assisted suicide are taking advantage of an opt-out provision in the law that prevents hospitals and physicians from being forced to violate their consciences.

STAT, a Boston Globe Media publication that focuses on health care, reported the University of Colorado Health system, with seven hospitals, is expected to participate in the assisted suicide program, as is Kaiser Permanente Colorado.

Here’s the help you’ll need to prepare your household for the realities of living under a centralized health-care system — order Dr. Lee Hieb’s “Surviving the Medical Meltdown: Your Guide to Living Through the Disaster of Obamacare”

But officials with Centura Health, the state’s largest system, with 15 hospitals and more than 100 physician practices and clinics, told STAT it would opt out of offering assisted suicide, the report said.

Centura Health is run by Catholic Health Initiatives and Adventist Health System.

The report said Colorado’s second largest Catholic system, SCL Health, which runs seven hospitals and clinics, then put out a statement declaring that any patients requesting aid in dying “will be offered an opportunity to transfer to another facility of the patient’s choice.”

STAT, noting the Catholic church opposes assisted suicide, said its Denver archdiocese spent $1.6 million fighting the new law.

Holly Armstrong of Compassion & Choices, which advocates for assisted suicide, complained that the moves have “a chilling effect.”

The report said another big health system in Colorado, HealthONE, said it won’t dispense life-terminating medications or allow patients to take them at its eight hospitals. But it is not faith-based, and it won’t impose the restrictions on its physicians.

That leaves a dispute developing over whether or not the doctors within the Catholic systems will participate.

The state’s law says health systems can’t prohibit doctors who work for them from writing assisted-suicide prescriptions, and the procedure’s advocates say they may go to court to make that clear.

“From what we’ve seen, it appears that Centura’s and SCL’s policies go beyond what is allowed under the law,” Kat West of Compassion & Choices told STAT.

A legal case is “a distinct possibility,” West said.

“Centura and SCL sent STAT statements saying they were confident their policies were lawful,” the report said.

Meanwhile, the report said, Compassion & Choices has been contacting all doctors’ offices to persuade them to participate.

Here’s the help you’ll need to prepare your household for the realities of living under a centralized health-care system — order Dr. Lee Hieb’s “Surviving the Medical Meltdown: Your Guide to Living Through the Disaster of Obamacare”

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