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Colorado Euthanasia Laws

Euthanasia can be viewed from two lenses: a mercy killing of a person who wants to end their life, or a sinful assisted suicide that should be punished. Religion, culture, and life experiences often affect our thoughts on the subject. Colorado, like most states, prohibits euthanasia.

Planning for the end of life, before or after being diagnosed with a terminal illness, is not an easy topic. Nor is health care planning always pleasant to discuss with your loved ones. However, one of the best ways to avoid problems at the end of life is to make your health care wishes known in a legal document, called a Living Will or Advanced Health Care Directive. You can choose a health care agent to make decisions for you if you become incapacitated. You can also create a document called a DNR or Do Not Resuscitate informing emergency medical service providers you don’t want CPR.

Although you can avoid being placed on life support while in a coma with a medical directive, you can’t hasten a slower death where you are conscious and only pain treatment can be provided. Fortunately, you can choose not to undergo any procedure or treatment that may prolong life, for religious or other reasons.

The table below highlights the main parts of Colorado’s euthanasia laws.

Code Section Colorado Revised Statutes Sections

Euthanasia Condoned in Statutes? Euthanasia is NOT permitted in Colorado. Nothing condones, authorizes, or approves euthanasia or mercy killing or otherwise permits any affirmative or deliberate act to end a person's life except to permit natural death.

In fact, it’s considered manslaughter. Manslaughter is recklessly causing the death of another person or intentionally causing or helping another person commit suicide. Colorado divides its crimes into different classes. Manslaughter is a Class 4 felony and can be punished by 2-6 years in prison, plus 3 years of mandatory parole afterwards. A fine of $2,000 to $500,000 can also be assessed.
Effect of Withholding Life-Sustaining Procedures Withholding or withdrawing life-sustaining procedures pursuant to a declaration or the law doesn’t constitute a suicide or homicide. For example, if a person has a medical directive that informs their doctor they don’t want to be on life support, if removing life support then causes the person to pass on, it’s considered a natural death.

Note: State laws are changing all the time, it’s best to verify the state laws you are researching by conducting your own legal research or contacting an experienced Colorado health care law attorney.

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