On the anniversary of my father’s death four years ago, I am remembering how he begged everyone who came into his hospital room to help him die. I am remembering how the hospital staff treated him like a child. Their hands were tied.
I remember joining the campaign to persuade the Colorado legislature to pass the End of Life Options Act that next winter. Advocates had polling data showing that 65 percent of Coloradans were in favor of providing terminally ill, mentally competent adults with the means to end their suffering.
I remember how Sen. Kerry Donovan was sympathetic and encouraging, but with a Republican majority (of one) in the state Senate, she knew the bill had no chance there.
Rep. Jim Wilson listened politely but was not swayed by the poll data. Instead, he told me he could not support the bill because of his own religious beliefs.
Wow. What is the meaning of the word “representative” if it doesn’t mean listening to your constituents and voting on their behalf on such a deeply personal matter? I am 100 percent in favor of considering one’s own values and religious beliefs when it comes to personal end-of-life decisions.
However, Rep. Wilson, as an elected representative, was wrong to ignore the will of two-thirds of his constituents on this issue. Why should he have the right to tell me that I have to suffer at the end of my life because of his religious beliefs?
Rep. Wilson was perfectly okay with allowing government to interfere with personal choice and autonomy on this matter. Because of this attitude on the part of (mostly Republican) legislators, advocates for the End of Life Options Act had to raise a lot of money and mount an initiative campaign to carry out the will of the people.
The results showed what we knew all along – medical aid in dying is an issue that has strong support across party and religious lines.
This is just one example of why I will be voting to re-elect Sen. Kerry Donovan and why I support Erin Kelley in her quest to replace Rep. Wilson in the state legislature.
Anne Marie Holen