Legislators in the US state of Colorado have voted against a Bill to legalise assisted suicide.
After ten hours of debate, politicians voted 8-5 to halt the proposed law which would allow terminally ill patients to end their own lives.
Before the vote the court heard from opponents of assisted suicide, including a disabled woman.
The Bill would have required two doctors to verify that a patient is terminally ill.
But Anita Cameron, who suffers from multiple disabilities, warned that the proposal lacked adequate ‘safeguards’.
She told a panel that her mother was given six months to live six years ago adding: “Doctors often make mistakes on whether someone is terminal or not”.
Experts in Europe have already raised fears that many people, especially the elderly, may feel pressured or coerced into ending their lives.
Palliative care specialists have warned that an elderly person might be at risk from their own family.
Dr Stephen Hutchison, a consultant physician in palliative medicine, said: “In the UK, elder abuse affects over half a million people, with the perpetrators commonly being friends or family.
“In the face of chronic illness and dependence, and the prospect of expensive care eroding the family’s inheritance, the availability of assisted suicide could create further risk to the frail and elderly and expose them to unhealthy societal and internal pressures.”
The Colorado ruling comes a day after the Canadian Supreme Court voted to legalise assisted suicide.
From next year, people with severe and incurable medical conditions will be able to be helped to take their own lives.
Gerald Chipeur QC, of Canadian law firm Miller Thompson LLP, noted that any legislation would at least exclude doctors from having to practise assisted suicide.
He said: “In this case, the Supreme Court of Canada has expressly recognized that physicians have both conscience and religious freedom rights”.
“This right”, Chipeur continued, “extends to participation by referral, meaning doctors cannot be forced even to refer patients” for assisted suicide.