After Emotional Debate, Committee Sends Aid-In-Dying To House

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Lawmakers on the public health committee struggled Friday with a bill that allows a terminally-ill person to end their life. Lawmakers on both sides of the issue set politics aside and used their personal experience to guide them in making the decision to send the bill to the House. 

“This is an individual's decision to end life on their own terms,” Rep. Jonathan Steinberg (D-Westport) said.

The bill, which passed the committee overwhelmingly, was difficult and personal. It didn’t have anything to do with politics or party affiliation. 

“This is a difficult and complex issue as we’re all aware. I’m going to be a no on it,” Rep. William A. Petit Jr. (R-Plainville) said.

Petit, who no longer practices medicine, said he can’t support this because physicians would be involved with prescribing a lethal dose of medication which goes against their oath. Under the bill an individual would have to consume the medication themselves. 

Some members voted against the bill because they didn’t necessarily believe the process put forth in the legislation was appropriate.

“If we pass this bill as is, I think it’s a grave mistake because there are too many questions and too many loopholes and it’s too loose,” Sen. Heather Somers (R-Groton) said.

Somers objected to the idea that the physician would be required to put the underlying condition on the death certificate as the cause of death. 

“This is beyond philosophical differences. This is beyond voting differently because our communities have different needs. This is personal for many of us,” Rep. Christie Carpino (R-Cromwell) said. 

Carpino said she would personally like the option of aid-in-dying if she was terminally ill but this bill doesn’t get her there. 

“Six months, terminal illness, multiple requests. The individual has to take the medication themselves. I feel that that makes for a strong policy,” Rep. Jillian Gilchrest (D-West Hartford) said.

Gilchrest believes the safeguards are in the legislation. 

“It gives people who love life, but have come to the realization that that life is ending a choice. Right now they don’t have that choice,” Gilchrest said. 

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