At least 14 times since 1994, pro-assisted suicide lawmakers have introduced legislation to legalize assisted suicide in Connecticut. Now, for the first time, one of those bills has successfully passed out of committee.
On Friday, March 5, the House public health committee passed House Bill 6425 in a 24-9 vote, largely along party lines, with three Republicans voting in favor of the bill along with Democrats.
If passed, the bill would allow terminally ill patients over age 18 who have been given less than six months to live the ability to end their own lives prematurely with the help of a physician who would prescribe lethal drugs. The bill defines “terminal illness” as “the final stage of an incurable and irreversible medical condition that an attending physician anticipates, within reasonable medical judgment, will produce a patient’s death within six months.”
One major problem with this is that doctors cannot predict the future, and there are instances in which they get it wrong. Jeanette Hall was 55 years old when she learned she had inoperable colon cancer. She lived in Oregon where assisted suicide had been already been made legal. Without treatment, she had six months to a year to live, which meant that she qualified for assisted suicide in Oregon. She wanted to use assisted suicide to end her life. Thankfully, her doctor opposed assisted suicide.
“She was terminal because she was refusing treatment,” explained Dr. Kenneth Stevens. “It’s like a person could be considered terminal if they’re not taking insulin or [other] medications.”
Instead, Jeanette did not go through with assisted suicide and she has been cancer-free for 20 years.
Those who are at risk of assisted suicide should not be handed a pill by a physician who has vowed to heal. They should be given access to all of the same resources and support that those who are at risk of suicide are given. Just because a person isn’t considered young or able-bodied doesn’t mean they should be offered death instead of support.
According to the National Review, statistics from Oregon and the Netherlands reveal that individuals who seek out assisted suicide do so not because they want to die but because they fear being a burden on their loved ones or being remembered as sick.
Connecticut Rep. William Petit, a physician, called the Connecticut bill “difficult and complicated.” He referenced a statement by the American Medical Association which said pro-assisted suicide laws are “fundamentally incompatible with a physician’s role as a healer.”
The bill will move forward, though according to the Hartford Courant, it is unclear how soon it will go before the full Connecticut House of Representatives or if it will be heard by the House before the General Assembly adjourns in early June.
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