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Assisted suicide to be decided by Colorado voters

Assisted suicide to be decided by voters

COLORADO SPRINGS, Co. - Colorado voters will decide in November whether to allow terminally ill patients to take their own lives.

Supporters call it "Death With Dignity", but opponents say it would lead to the unnecessary loss of life.

State lawmakers have tried to pass a right-to-die bill several times, but failed, so a group of citizens recently set out to gather enough signatures to force a public vote, and succeeded.

The End-of-Life Options Act is very similar to the bill sponsored twice by Colorado Springs State Senator Michael Merrifield.

"It was an issue that I've been very involved in, very concerned with, since the excrutiating death my father had to go through," he said this week.

Merrifield explained that his father was a proud man, but had to beg for relief from pain for a month before dying from cancer.

"After seeing that, and watching him die for about four weeks at his bedside, I decided that if I ever had the opportunity, I would do something about it," he said.

Under the proposal, physician-assisted suicide would be an option if two doctors agree a person had six months or less to live, and they are mentally competent to decide their own fate, and they are able to administer the lethal prescription themselves.

Religious leaders have long opposed the idea of humans "playing God", and many advocates for the disabled are concerned as well.

Julie Farrar, a longtime advocated for people with disabilities, fears that health care providers and families may choose this cheaper alternative if proper end-of-life care out of reach.

"It is very concerning to me that we are then giving a physician the ability and power to write a prescription to end the life of a patient who may not have access to those services like proper pain management, palliative care services, and hospice care services that provide support for the individual and their family members," she said.

Merrifield believes the Act includes plenty of safeguards.

"There's never been one instance of any misuse of the law in any of the states that currently have it," he said.

Colorado would be the sixth state in the country to allow physician-assisted suicide.

According to Merrifield, polling shows most coloradans support the measure, and opponents admit they are far outfunded by the other side.

Click here to read the entire text of the End-Of-Life Options Act from the Secretary of State's office.

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