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DENVER — Nearly one-third of Colorado’s hospitals are refusing to offer terminally ill patients the option of physician-assisted suicide — even though voters last fall overwhelmingly approved a ballot initiative legalizing the practice.

And two of the state’s biggest health care systems, both faith-based, appear poised to bar their doctors from providing such services to patients at any of their facilities, under any circumstances — potentially running afoul of the new aid-in-dying law.


The Catholic Church strongly opposes assisted suicide and the Archdiocese of Denver spent $1.6 million campaigning against the Colorado measure. That effort failed, but faith-based health systems are now leading resistance on the ground.

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  • Diana, your comment makes me furious. It’s fine that the law permits doctors to opt out — it’s not fine that Catholic hospitals are prohibiting doctors with hospital privileges or on their staff to NOT provide aid in dying even when those doctors do NOT share Catholic beliefs and are in reality willing to do so and willing to help patients from their off-the-premises-offices, but Catholic hospitals are forcing them to NOT do so. It’s disgusting and your description does not meet the reality of what is happening.

    No one wants to force Catholics to violate their beliefs (though not all practicing Catholics agree with the official Church position). We just want to stop Catholics’ preventing others from willingly helping their patients.

    • It should be expected by the physician who is employed/has hospital privileges by a Catholic health system that this hospital system will adhere to Catholic doctrine. If a provider is shocked by the stance of the hospital system, this provider clearly has not done his/her research on its foundation and should seek employment elsewhere.

  • The problem with all these is that the timetable for dying of cancer or any other terminal illness is not necessarily predictable, and the patient may slip into a situation where asking for help to end this is no longer possible, and certainly not spread out over several weeks. To follow the rules you would have to be still in good enough condition and therefore be leaving prematurely, to avoid the risk of waiting too long and then not getting the help you need.

    • You want the health care industry to keep doing painful, useless things to people and ensure the continuation of suffering. Amazing to me how people like several posters here are so hardhearted they want government to enforce suffering. How cruel. Why don’t you mind your own business and not try to force these views on other people? That a religion would decline to help alleviate suffering tells us a lot about it.

    • lou,
      No one has to consent to any surgery, procedure, or treatment that he or she considers burdensome or unnecessary. If he or she is unable to refuse, his or her health care power of attorney can do it on his/her behalf. This has been legal for many years. It’s simple to for people to buy dog tags or pendants to indicate their preference for DNR/DNI orders. Some people even have tattoos, for haven’s sake!

  • Let’s see if Denver, Colorado
    will become the location of the
    first right-to-die hospice.
    The voters of Colorado voted
    strongly in favor of the right-to-die.
    Now some public-spirited individuals
    should incorporate themselves
    as a new hospice service that will provide
    ALL legal end-of-life medical care,
    including the new medical aid in dying.
    Here is a handbook explaining how
    a right-to-die hospice would operate:

  • Correction please: Here is the rest of the story.
    Your source has done you a disservice. The promoters of assisted suicide have worn out their thesaurus attempting to imply that it is legal in Montana. Assisted suicide is a homicide in Montana. Our MT Supreme Court did ruled that if a doctor is charged with a homicide they might have a potential defense based on consent. The MT Supreme Court acknowledged it is a homicide in the ruling.

    The Court did not address civil liabilities and they vacated the lower court’s claim that it was a constitutional right. Unlike Oregon no one in Montana has immunity from civil or criminal prosecution, death certificates are not legally falsified and investigations are not prohibited like in OR, WA and CA. Does that sound legal to you? Does that sound shielded to you?

    Perhaps the promoters are frustrated that even though they were the largest lobbying spender in Montana their Oregon model legalizing assisted suicide bills have been rejected in Montana in 2011, 2013 and 2015.

    Your source has done the public a disservice. Their ordinary bait and switch campaign is demonstrated by their selling “must self-administer” then they do not provide in their legislation for an ordinary witness of the “self-administration”, which you used in your article.
    The difference is that a witness would honor individual rights and choices, without a witness it allows euthanasia. If the individual struggled is not known by this non transparent policy.
    This omission eviscerates the flaunted safeguards putting the entire population at risk of exploitation by the medical-industrial-complex, human trafficking by predatory corporations, organ traffickers, predatory heirs and “new best friends” like the killers of Oregon’s Thomas Middleton. All of Oregon model laws/bills including Hawaii’s, DC and Colorado’s non transparent Prop 106 simply allow forced euthanasia. Welcome to the Oregon experience.
    Respectfully submitted,
    Bradley Williams
    Mtaas org

    • It’s a greater crying shame that so many who have voted for AS or desire it have been railroaded by C&C. Why should a doctor who is pledged to uphold life, now be compelled to uphold death? A doctor who pushes for AS challenges the public trust in all capacities, but mostly in his oath to be a healer not a killer.

    • Spring Texan, what would happen if Catholic hospitals and organizations didn’t exist? The Catholic Church is the largest non-governmental provider of healthcare services and the largest charitable organization in the world.

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