This article was written by Jennifer Ballentine and published in the Denver Post on Feb 13, 2016. Jennifer Ballentine is vice president of Hospice Analytics in Colorado Springs.
Colorado's legislators should be commended for hearing many hours of open testimony on the controversial End-of-Life Options Act (House Bill 1054), which would legalize physician-assisted death. At the end of the second hearing earlier this month, amendments were adopted to address concerns.
After all the wordsmithing and window-dressing, however, the amended bill still does not address the biggest problem of all, one that should worry both supporters and opponents of physician-assisted death.
In a nutshell: Although the bill lays out specific eligibility requirements and a detailed process by which people may request and receive life-ending drugs, the bill completely lacks any requirement for documentation, oversight, or enforcement.
Quite simply, all the so-called "safeguards" in the bill are a fairy tale.
Without documentation, processes can be sidestepped or skipped altogether. Without enforcement, protection is meaningless. Without reporting, no one can know whether the law has been used appropriately, misused, or even abused.
This is a significant change from last year's bill and a complete break with other enacted laws governing physician-assisted death.
In other legislation and laws, the doctor must document the process in the patient's medical record.
Not in this year's bill.