Coloradans deserve the facts about Prop 106, not misinformation and fear mongering. We’ve fact checked the falsehoods and lies spread by opponents of Prop 106 below, and provided some helpful resources and tools for informing your network.
Here are the facts:
Mental Health Referrals
FEAR: Doctors will have to serve as counselors for depressed or suicidal patients.
FACT: If the doctor suspects the patient is not mentally capable (i.e. depressed, suicidal, etc.), that doctor must make a referral to a mental health professional.
FEAR: If passed, insurance companies will promote medical aid in dying instead of potentially life saving treatments.
FACT: A research article from the New England Journal of Medicine concludes insurers have no financial incentive to pressure patients to accelerate their deaths. There are no substantial cost savings. Co-authored by an opponent of aid in dying to ensure objectivity, it finds: “savings can be predicted to be very small — less than 0.1% of both total healthcare spending in the United States and an individual managed-care plan’s budget.” This myth is further dispelled by the fact that 92% of people in Oregon who choose medical aid in dying are enrolled in hospice care and not receiving expensive or intensive treatment. Hospice enjoys nearly universal insurance coverage, and hospices have charitable funds to cover those who cannot pay. Medicare fully covers hospice services, as does Medicaid – with no lag or delay in payment, as with some other services. Hospice is significantly less expensive than treatments meant to extend life, which occur before a person becomes eligible for aid in dying. Therefore, consideration of aid in dying comes at a time when the cost of care is low, and there is no financial incentive to encourage people to choose that option.
Prop 106 Reporting Requirements
FEAR: Prop 106 lacks the reporting requirements of the Oregon Death with Dignity Act.
FACT: The reporting requirements in Prop 106 are identical to the Oregon law. The health department is tasked with (and funded for) a rule-making process that could actually make the reporting requirements more stringent.
FEAR: If you face a potentially life-ending disease, Prop 106 will allow you to choose suicide on the basis of the opinion of any old doctor, even one that has no experience with your disease or illness.
FACT: Prop 106 specifies that a mentally capable adult must have two confirming terminal diagnoses; first from the attending physician, who must be the licensed physician who has primary responsibility for the medical care of an individual; and second from a consulting physician, who must be a licensed physician who is qualified by specialty or experience to confirm a professional diagnosis and prognosis regarding an individual’s terminal illness. Doctors trained in unrelated specialties cannot serve as attending or consulting physicians.
FEAR: Doctors would decide whose life is worth living.
FACT: The option to consider medical aid in dying is entirely up to the individual. Protections are in place to ensure the terminally ill person is mentally capable, free of coercion, and aware of all options available.
Limits to Medical Aid in Dying
FEAR: Prop 106 is a slippery slope toward euthanasia, mercy killing, and legalized suicide.
FACT: In 19+ years, Oregon’s medical aid in dying law has not changed in any way from the day it was passed. It’s been successful, and has zero proven cases of misuse or abuse.
Elderly and Disabled Safety
FEAR: If passed, Prop 106 will endanger the elderly, disabled and infirm in our society.
FACT: The option to consider medical aid in dying is only available for mentally capable, terminally ill adults with less than six months to live. Like all medical aid-in-dying laws, section 25-48-103(2) in the Colorado End-of-Life Options Act clearly states “The right to request medical aid-in-dying medication does not exist because of age or disability.”⁵ Careful studies of the law’s 19-year record in Oregon, the first state to pass an aid in dying law, demonstrate that concerns the law would target the disabled, elderly, frail, uninsured or any vulnerable groups have not materialized. Disability Rights Oregon, charged with protecting Oregonians with disabilities, has never received a complaint of abuse or attempted abuse under the Oregon Death with Dignity Act.
Reasons People List for Accessing Medical Aid in Dying
FEAR: Most terminally ill people do not use medical aid in dying because of suffering.
FACT: The reasons they list, as reported in Oregon, are many as most people list more than one reason for requesting the medication. Quality of life during the dying process can really only be defined by the person who is suffering. Most dying people understand their pain could be controlled if they were willing to be sedated to unconsciousness (but that is not possible for all patients). But many value consciousness so highly that they bear extraordinary pain in order to be somewhat alert during their final days. Therefore, it is not pain alone that pushes them to seek aid in dying. Also, pain is only one component of suffering; others may include extreme fatigue, nausea, vomiting, open wounds, foul smells, tumors breaking through the skin and other agonies.