By Cary Kennedy
My father-in-law has been an oncologist for more than fifty years, specializing in the treatment of breast cancer. He has witnessed remarkable progress in the prevention and treatment of a once untreatable disease. He has also witnessed the immeasurable suffering of thousands of women in late stages of the disease, past the point at which modern medicine can help.
Several years ago, he joined a lawsuit sponsored by Compassion & Choices and the ACLU of New Mexico to give his patients, and all mentally capable people with terminal illnesses, a choice: the choice to end their suffering on their own terms. We all deserve the option to spend those final days how we choose, focused on life with family and friends rather than unbearable suffering.
This November, Colorado voters should vote yes on Proposition 106, a statutory measure that would make Colorado the sixth state to authorize doctors to prescribe aid-in-dying medication to mentally capable, terminally ill adults who request it and can self-administer the medication.
For me, personal freedom and the right to self-determination – the right to choose how we live – is paramount. I agree with people who raise legitimate concerns – end of life option laws must be narrowly tailored so that the decision can only be made by the terminally ill patient and only if they are fully capable to make the decision for themselves. This is the standard that has been used successfully in Oregon for almost 20 years, and the Colorado End-of-Life Options Act is modeled after the Oregon law and meets this standard.
Most of us have watched someone we love pass. My husband Saurabh and I lived with my mother-in-law for fifteen years and cared for her as she aged. We were there with her during her final hours and mercifully her suffering did not last long. But during the final stages of her illness she was fearful of how she would die and she wished that she had the peace of mind knowing she could end her life if her suffering became unbearable.
We need to give our parents, grandparents and friends who are at the end of heroic fights against terminal illness the option to finish that battle on their own terms.
Cary Kennedy is the former Colorado State Treasurer, serving from 2007 to 2011. She was previously appointed as the Deputy Mayor and CFO of Denver. Cary and her husband Saurabh Mangalik live in Denver with their two children.