DENVER — The firing of a Colorado doctor who wanted to prescribe life-ending drugs to a man suffering from incurable cancer has touched off a legal battle testing the state’s medically assisted suicide law.
Centura Health, a Christian-affiliated health system in Colorado and Kansas, fired Dr. Barbara Morris last week after she and her patient, 64-year-old Neil Mahoney, tried to get a state court to weigh in on whether the organization could stop her from helping Mahoney.
Centura then had the case moved to federal court, where it is challenging whether Colorado’s law violates its religious freedom and its right to discipline employees on religious grounds.
Colorado is one of nine states that will allow terminally ill patients to seek life-ending drugs by the end of the year.
Colorado’s law, passed by voters in 2016, allows people with a prognosis of six months or less to live to request the drugs from their doctor to administer to themselves when and if they chose.
Doctors can choose whether or not to participate. Centura and other hospitals have said they can opt out of the law too.