The “right-to-die” law for terminally ill patients has passed in Colorado on Tuesday by 62%. It is the sixth U.S. state that allows people with little time left to live to opt for ending their lives on their own terms.
Almost two thirds of Colorado voters have chosen in favor of Proposition 106, better known under the “right-to-die” name, making the state of Colorado, the sixth state to have passed this law. According to it, people that have been diagnosed with an illness which leaves them six months or less to live, have the legal right to obtain a substance called secobarbital. It is a powerful sleeping medication that becomes lethal if taken in high dosage.
In order to qualify for the right-to-die, patients also have to have received their diagnosis from two separate doctors and must be proven to be mentally competent.
Those against the “right-to-die”, mostly religious groups or nonprofits that support the rights for people with disabilities, warn that such a law could drive some individuals to give up on life prematurely and in some cases, abuse can occur, by family members or doctors.
Though still a controversial practice, the right to die has legally passed in five other states within the U.S. : Oregon, Washington, California, Vermont and Montana. Of them, Oregon was the first to enact the legislation, as early as 1997.
In Colorado, the las was pushed to pass, among others, by Dan Diaz, the husband of the woman who became the face of the right-to-die movement, Brittany Maynard. The 29-year-old passed away in November 2014, due to an aggressive form of brain cancer. In an article dating from September 2015, Diaz explains that his wife “simply wanted the ability to have a gentle death, just as anyone would want.” He went on explaining that people who face a dire diagnosis become afraid of the death ahead of them, as they go through a hard dying process, most times enduring uncontrollable pain. The law did not allow Maynard at that time to arrange for her own death in the state she was living in – California – so the couple moved to Oregon, where Brittany “died gently, in her sleep.”
Here is Brittany Maynard’s story:
A second video has been made, just days before her passing. In it, Maynard talks about the rapid progression of her illness and the effects it has on her with each day that passes:
Dan Diaz, as well as other activists who support the right-to-die cause, will continue to work towards expanding awareness on the need for the right-to-die-with-dignity law to other states.