Assisted Suicide Debate Returns to Connecticut

A select few states allow for doctors to prescribe medications to patients that would lead to their death.

In Connecticut, the practice is currently illegal, but advocates for "aid in dying" as the practice is known, want the state to allow it.

"It’s meant to provide an option for those who have tremendous suffering," Rep. Andy Fleischmann, who sponsored the legislation, said.

Fleischmann said he only started to seriously consider the idea of aid in dying when he began to spend time in cancer treatment centers as he fought the disease.

The measure would allow doctors to assist a patient in their death only if the patient has been provided with a terminal diagnosis.

Opponents say the safeguards spelled out, like those requiring family members sign off, are not enough to avoid abuse. They also say such laws cheapen life.

"I would argue that the bill could never have enough safeguards to make it alright to license doctors to prescribe lethal drugs as a treatment and grant immunity to the people who help you kill you yourselves," Peter Wolfgang, the executive director of the Connecticut Family Institute, said. "It opens up way too many doors and leads us down a very destructive path in the state of Connecticut."

Wolfgang said he fears family members who may be beneficiaries of someone’s demise looking to take advantage of a situation.

Cathy Ludlum, who was born with spinal muscular atrophy and is confined to a wheelchair, said providing an option of whether to end your life in a medical setting blurs the entire issue.

"People think this is about choice but once assisted suicide is available it distorts choice and there’s no way around that no matter what safeguards they put in place. You don’t know what’s going on at home," she said.

Karina Danvers from West Haven has a different a view. She’s been fighting HIV and AIDS for the better part of 30 years and she’s been told on more than one occasion that the end could be coming sooner than she’d like.

"It’s about choice," Danvers said. "It’s about my choice."

The odds of passage during the 2018 Regular Session appear to be slim, as the issue hasn’t been considered by lawmakers since 2015, and the issue was not raised as a priority by either party.

"I have been living for almost 30 years. I have taken every toxic medication you can think of to stay alive, so I don’t just want this legislation so I can do myself in. If it ever gets to that point, it means that it’s got to mean something big," Danvers said.

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