By Chris Haring

Governor Jared Polis has signed an amendment that significantly expands access to medical aid in dying for Colorado residents living with a terminal illness.

On June 5, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed SB24-068 into law, reducing the barriers some patients experience in navigating the state’s End of Life Options Act. This amendment is a crucial step forward in making medical aid in dying more accessible to terminally ill patients across Colorado.

Critical changes to Colorado’s End of Life Options Act

The newly signed amendment introduces several vital changes aimed at improving the accessibility and efficiency of the physician-assisted dying process:

  • Including advanced practice nurse practitioners as evaluators and prescribers broadens the pool of qualified medical professionals who can assist patients in end-of-life decisions, especially in rural areas experiencing medical personnel shortages.
  • Reducing the mandatory waiting period between oral requests from fifteen days to seven days significantly shortens the time terminally ill patients must wait before they can access aid in dying.
  • Authorizing providers to waive the waiting period if a patient is unlikely to survive more than forty-eight hours and meets all other qualifications helps ensure access to Death with Dignity for the most critically ill patients.

Legislative journey of Colorado’s End of Life Options amendment

The passage of this amendment is a testament to the hard work and tireless advocacy of the Colorado right-to-die movement. It enjoyed broad support throughout the legislative process, ensuring that medical aid in dying is genuinely accessible to those who need it.

Death with Dignity’s CEO Peg Sandeen notes, “The changes to Colorado’s End of Life Options Act are essential for promoting equity and increasing access to medical aid in dying, particularly for vulnerable patients. Colorado’s commitment to reducing barriers to quality end-of-life care is a testament to the state’s dedication to upholding the rights and dignity of terminally ill individuals. We are grateful for the hard work and advocacy that made these critical improvements possible.'”

Acknowledging advocates of Colorado’s aid-in-dying law

We sincerely thank the legislators and advocates who played a pivotal role in this achievement. Special thanks to prime sponsors Senator Joann Ginal (D-CO-014) and Representative Kyle Brown (D-CO-012), as well as vocal advocate Representative Elisabeth Epps (D-CO-006), for their leadership and dedication. We also acknowledge the invaluable efforts of End of Life Choices Colorado and other advocacy groups whose relentless work made this expansion possible.

This amendment marks the first time since 2016 that Colorado’s law has changed, expanding access for terminally ill patients – a milestone in the ongoing effort to provide compassionate and dignified end-of-life options.

Please visit this page for more information on the history and progression of Death with Dignity in Colorado.