Why Colorado doctors may struggle with physician-assisted suicide

Next with Kyle Clark. 9NEWS @ 6. 1/23/2017

Hundreds of you have reached out with advice, and your opinions on Kathy and Herb's story.

Kathy has end-stage COPD, and would like to end her life with Colorado's new physician-assisted suicide law. Herb has been looking for doctors but cannot find one to prescribe the lethal medication.

"Everyday I wake up, I don't want to be awake. It hurts. It's painful," Kathy said from her bed, in an interview with Next

Terminally ill patient can't find doctor to prescribe assisted suicide meds

Herb says that doctors haven't explicitly turned him down, but they don't seem to understand the law when he asks. 

The Colorado Medical Society told us on Monday that the organization has been sending out learning materials to doctors statewide to inform them about the law. The organization started just after the measure became legal last month.

Doctors may be skeptical early on because the state's board of health only approved emergency rules for the new law last week, and emergency rules are only temporary. The board has 120 days to approve more permanent rules.

Regardless, doctors still have the right to opt out of participating. Delta County's Memorial Hospital even wrote to the paper there explaining the hospital won't prescribe the medication.

Back when the measure was headed to the ballot, the medical society asked Colorado doctors about it. Just more than 50 percent said they supported the idea of physician-assisted suicided, and 30 percent said they were strongly opposed. 

In order for Kathy to end her life, two doctors have to verify that her condition is terminal and that she's in the proper mental state to make the decision on her own.

(© 2017 KUSA)


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