Living Wills in Colorado

- M. Dee Biesterfeld


Terri Schiavo in Colorado?  If she had signed a Colorado living will, it probably would not have allowed termination of artificial nourishment – until August 11, 2010 when the Colorado Legislature substantially improved the scope of a Colorado living will.

The fight over the life and death decisions to be made on behalf of Terri Schiavo produced a flood of research and discussion here in Colorado. This article does not discuss the moral issues; it discusses only what tools Colorado law provides. What do the Colorado statutes give a person who wishes to express the desire to terminate artificial nourishment under certain circumstances?

Terri Schiavo’s condition was described as a Persistent Vegetative State.  A Persistent Vegetative State is not considered to be a terminal condition under Colorado’s definition of death.  Our previous living will statute gave no guidance in the event of Persistent Vegetative State.  The new statute allows any person to sign a declaration that if the condition of that person ever becomes terminal or ever develops into a Persistent Vegetative State, then the person declares that he or she does not want to be kept alive artificially.  The new statute also allows the declarant to specify to whom notice of the condition should be given and allows the declarant to elect to make anatomical gifts.

This information is general in character and is not intended as legal advice. Application of the law may differ substantially in individual situations.  Before taking any action as a result of this information, a professional advisor should be consulted.