For the ninth year in a row, Connecticut’s assisted suicide bill has failed to pass. The House Judiciary Committee has adjourned without taking up HB 6425, according to the Family Institute of Connecticut, ending the bill’s chances of becoming law in 2021. The bill could be resurrected this year only as an amendment to another bill.
This year marked the first time an assisted suicide bill has made it out of committee in Connecticut, when the House public health committee passed HB 6425 on March 5 in a 24-9 vote. The bill aimed to allow terminally ill patients over the age of 18 who have been given less than six months to live the ability to end their lives prematurely through suicide with the assistance of a physician. That physician would have been allowed to prescribe lethal drugs.
Opponents of assisted suicide argue that those at risk of assisted suicide should not be helped into a premature death by doctors who have taken a vow to heal. Instead, these patients should be given access to all of the same resources and support that healthy, able-bodied individuals at risk of suicide are given. Legalized assisted suicide amid a society that is so devoted to ending the suicides of healthy people sends the message that those who are ill or disabled are not worthy of living.
Second Thoughts CT, an organization of individuals with disabilities and those who stand against the legalization of assisted suicide, celebrated the bill’s demise on Facebook, claiming, “Victory!” Cathy Ludlum, the leader of Second Thoughts CT, spoke with WPLR in January about the bill, noting that though people think it’s “a good idea to put the choice of when and how one dies into the hands of the individual,” there is much more to consider, such as how disabled individuals already have difficulty accessing health care and overcoming healthcare discrimination.
There is also a valid concern surrounding coercion and assisted suicide. Ludlum explained:
What those of us in the disability community are trying to get across is, there is no safeguard that can counter the social stigma of needing help with intimate care, of having to rely on others for support, or of seeing your caregivers tired and wondering if the world would be better off without you.
In fact, “feeling like a burden” is the reason more than half of the patients prescribed a lethal drug overdose in Oregon cited for their reason for wanting to die. It isn’t pain or personal desire to die that is fueling assisted suicide, but fear over causing stress to their family and caretakers.
There are numerous myths surrounding assisted suicide, and society needs to work to prevent so-called “death with dignity” in the same ways it works to prevent the suicides of the young and able-bodied.
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