Connecticut state legislators are considering a bill that would allow terminally ill patients to request help from a doctor to end their life. The public health committee held a public hearing on Friday.
Lawmakers listened to more than 100 people testify. But this isn’t the first time this topic has come before them. This is at least the eighth time an aid-in-dying bill has been discussed and it has never made it out of committee, according to Representative Jonathan Steinberg, who represents Westport. But Steinberg is hopeful this bill will progress.
“We’ve come very close. I’m confident, not certain, but confident that this will be the year given the makeup of our committee,” said Steinberg.
Some in favor of the bill talked about the compassion it brings and said COVID-19 has changed things.
“We have all recognized the fragility of our lives, we have seen the importance of how one dies and the importance of bringing closure to family members. The time is now in Connecticut because we have the option to be able to bring a different kind of end-of-life experience to people and that’s why this year things are very different,” Kim Callinan, the president and CEO of Compassion & Choices, said.
Others testified that simply moving to another state that offers aid-in-dying is cumbersome to people in the last few months of their life.
Jennifer Mizzone’s husband died of ALS in 2019.
“You take the focus away from the illness itself and living the best life you can until you can’t and then giving the comfort in the end, it all becomes about moving, packing, it’s just too daunting of a task,” said Mizzone, a resident of Orange.
But others testified against the legislation, like Cathy Ludlum from Manchester.
“So I think our concern is that once you open this up, you’re closing other doors. You’re reducing the incentive for research to do better palliative care, better pain management, more home care, more support so that people can live in high levels of disability or terminal illness. But there’s no incentive for that once assisted suicide becomes the hammer,” said Ludlum.
The Connecticut Catholic Public Affairs Conference, representing catholic bishops in Connecticut, released a statement expressing concern that “people may have their lives taken without their consent” and the bill would “indirectly authorize the use of drug cocktails that have not been approved by the FDA” and could lead to patients being “test subjects” and suffering.