The term euthanasia can evoke a variety of emotions. This controversial topic is passionately defended by both camps; those who see it as dying with dignity and those who see it as helping another commit suicide. Since, some states have already voted in favor of legalizing this practice and others have begun to promote legislation in favor of euthanasia, many people wonder if it is legal in their state. Currently, the state of Colorado has taken the stance of the majority of states, that euthanasia is and should be illegal.
The best way to ensure your wishes are honored in an end of life situation is to be sure you have clearly stated your wishes to immediate family who may be tasked with making important decisions about your medical care. Additionally, you should take care to fill out a living will or advance directive, a legally binding document that ensures your wishes will be honored. Furthermore, you may choose to designate a specific person to make decisions for you if you are unable to do so for yourself. If you are at peace with the life you have lived, you may wish to fill out a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) making it illegal for emergency personnel or health care workers to shock your heart back or complete lifesaving CPR on you.
The practice of Euthanasia is completely illegal in Colorado, no matter what the circumstances. Intentionally taking the life of another, even with the motivation of mercy killing is considered a crime in Colorado. Euthanasia is considered a very serious crime in our state, carrying with it a charge of manslaughter. Within the definition of manslaughter, helping someone commit suicide or causing another’s suicide is included. A conviction of manslaughter is classified as a Class 4 felony. Penalties include up to 6 years in prison, as well as 3 years mandatory parole following the prison sentence. You may also be fined up to $500,000.
You may be wondering where the line is drawn between allowing someone to go peacefully and euthanasia. In cases where medical treatment or procedures are withdrawn or withheld via the patients wishes, it is not considered euthanasia, manslaughter, or assisted suicide. For those who have filled out an advance directive instructing medical personnel of their wishes to forego life support, subsequent death due to lack of life support will be considered death by natural causes. Dying because one is not resuscitated is merely considered be an act of permitting natural death to occur by not interfering with nature.