Connecticut Debates Legalizing Physician-Assisted Suicide

Needle - syringeHARTFORD, Conn. — Lawmakers in Connecticut are considering a newly-proposed bill that would legalize physician-assisted suicide in the state.

A public hearing was held on Wednesday at the Capitol Complex where those on both sides of the issue came to speak their mind about the matter. Assisted suicide bills have been presented to the legislature in the past, but have failed to make it past committee.

This year’s proposal, HB 7015, would allow terminally ill patients who wish to end their lives to submit two requests to a physician. Two witness with no personal interest in the situation and no relation to the patient would also be required to be present. Upon approval, the doctor would then write a prescription for a lethal dose of medication, which the patient would ingest and die.

Rep. Kelly Luxenberg (D-Manchester) spoke in favor of the measure, explaining that her father drowned himself after a battle with Parkinson’s disease.

“He never learned to swim and was intensely fearful of the water. So there is an even sadder irony in the way in which he chose to die,” she told the Judiciary Committee and those gathered. “Parkinson’s stripped my father of a life with dignity. Wouldn’t it have been great if in death his dignity could have been regained?”

Resident Charles Silbert also spoke in support of the bill, stating that he had seen both of his parents die, and now may lose his own life to prostate cancer.

“I’ve never been afraid to die, but I am afraid of how I may die,” he said. “I’ve seen my mother die a bad death and I’ve seen other people die a bad death. … Connecticut, the Constitution State, should join the five other states that guarantee the ultimate liberty, the right to die with dignity.”

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But others decried the legislation, stating that it could create a slippery slope where people could be pushed to end their lives because of an adverse or terminal diagnosis.

“People with disabilities, advocates against elder abuse are rightly concerned that the ‘right to die’ could become a ‘duty to die,’” Peter Wolfgang of the Family Institute of Connecticut told those gathered.

“Is it acceptable for someone’s life to be shortened because people may be actually on a wrong prognosis, or because they have been pressed to make this final move?” asked Cathy Ludlum of Second Thoughts Connecticut, who is disabled.

Rep. Bruce Morris (D-Norwalk) made similar statements, noting that some who have been labeled as terminal have overcome their disease.

“There is no exact science to the term (terminal) and there have been people who were deemed terminal and recovered,” he said.

Resident Kerry Costigan ultimately told the Committee that suicide in any form and for any reason is morally sinful.

“There is no dignity and honor in suicide and we all know that,” she said. “There is a natural course to life. We all begin to die the day we’re born.”

“Dying in this manner changes the natural course of life and death, but most of all it’s murder,” Costigan said.


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  • Rob Comment

    Here’s another important point: this bill does not require a patient be evaluated by a psychiatrist or a psychologist before they are given the poison pills! So family doctors can detect depression with 100% certainty? If it’s not 100%, then depressed people will die. This is a very big flaw in this bill.

  • Marvels of life

    I’ve struggled with this since seeing a documentary about a woman in Oregon (which has a law that allows assisted death after discussion with behavior psychologists) To her it was a matter of quality of life issues since she knew that she was going to suffer with extreme pain until death. Her family participated in the decision (a good family) and after much thought she decided to do it after much thought and at first deciding not to go forward with it. As time progressed however she became worse and worse, bedridden and having many issues. She decided to go ahead after again thinking it through. The medications are given to the patient while everyone is there including a doctor. The law allows for the medication to be given to her when she is ready, and she then swallowed the pills. No suffering, just a peaceful way of passing while her family was there with her. I say all that to say after seeing the procedure, her life, family, etc. it certainly would be something to consider if there was suffering involved. Morally is it wrong? My question would be this. Would Christ want you to suffer in the extreme? I don’t see any indication of that in the Bible. Many may disagree with my conclusion but if the situation were similar, would I choose that? If everything was in order, and I felt God with me and it did not hurt my family to do so, I think I would. Of course there is so many things to consider, but overall a peaceful death (since we must die anyway) would be a compassionate thing to do for someone (if and that is a big if) if the law was not designed just to remove the disabled, elderly, sick with expenses was not in any way a part of a decision by someone else, such as a family member thinking they have to take care of someone, and it would be better for them if it were done. It would have to be all about the person understanding and being prepared, and with consultation a decision they would make.

    • John_33

      I understand your wishes and desires (naturally, we all want to go as painless as possible), but if you take the time to go through each point, you will realize that there’s no way to have a perfect system that includes assisted suicide. To put it succinctly, assisted suicide is evil. It’s rotten to the core, and it’s deceptive because it’s being sold in the name of ‘compassion.’ I apologize for the length of this reply, but I actually left some things out.

      First, the main problem with assisted suicide is that there will always be the risk of family members influencing the final decision of the patient. How could it be any different? Suppose a patient is in writhing pain and a family member says, “I really think you should consider assisted suicide.” Would that family member’s suggestion be coercion, undue influence, or a loving suggestion? What if they say it numerous times over the course of a week? Would that coercive? Now suppose in the same scenario that a doctor tells the patient that they should consider assisted suicide (it’s the doctor’s job to notify the patient of all possible treatments). Is that coercion? Please remember that it’s a medical expert suggesting the procedure as a potential remedy. These questions will never be solved since we are talking about any possible influence to choose death.

      Second, there’s the element of cost. Assisted suicide is so cheap that it will always be cheaper than any treatments needed to continue to live. In 2008, assisted suicide drugs were around $50 n the state of Oregon. Think of how cheap that is. It’s cheaper to take these drugs than it is to purchase wheel chairs, oxygen, medication, or even Meals on Wheels. With death so cheap and life so expensive, there’s no way to change this. High-tech life-saving tools will always be more expensive than assisted suicide. How do you think this will affect the elderly? They will be forced to decide whether they should choose to spend less on suicide drugs now so their children will have a better inheritance or spend more on treatment in hopes of living longer. This too will never be erased from the system.

      Third, countries that have legalized assisted suicide never stay with assisted suicide. It should be no surprise that countries that enact assisted suicide into law see their culture transform from a culture of life to a culture of death. Arguably, abortion and other things started this, but assisted suicide accelerates it. The Netherlands has what’s known as the Groningen Protocol. This gives doctors legal protection under strict regulations to kill children who are severely disabled up to the age of 12 with their parents’ permission. Is this the height of compassion? Now it’s not assisted suicide anymore since the children cannot speak for themselves.

      It’s no better in Belgium, which has enacted assisted suicide. Within the last year or two, their legislative body chose to repeal all age restrictions on it. This means that a child as young as six can ask for assisted suicide. What child at that age will be able to fully comprehend the ramification of that decision? What child at that age can make this type of decision without any influence from adults? According to the state, children at that age can’t vote, drink, drive, or marry, but they can request assisted suicide?

      Fourth, God forbids it. In 2 Samuel 1:1-16, the Bible explains why assisted suicide is wrong. The passage starts with an Amalekite coming to David after Saul is dead. If you examine the verses, you will see that the Amalekite’s arguments are exactly the same as the arguments made by proponents for assisted suicide. For example, the Amalekite said that Saul asked the Amalekite to kill him (verse 9). The Amalekite also argued that Saul had no chance of living (verse 10). Also, the Amalekite argued that Saul wanted this death because the Philistines were going to torture him and make his death even worse (verse 6 and 1 Samuel 31:4). What did David say in response to all of this? He ordered his men to kill the Amalekite because it was just plain old murder (verses 15-16), and that’s how God sees this – as murder.

      Don’t be tricked into seeing it differently because of the excuses given. The reasons behind an action do not change what the action is. We can murder out of hate, fear, spite or envy, but the reasons don’t change the fact that it is still murder. In the same way, we can conduct assisted suicide out of malice, compassion, greed or out of an aversion to suffering, but at the end of the day, it’s still the taking of another human life – it’s murder, and that’s how God saw it when the Amalekite killed king Saul.

      The Bible is full of examples not to choose suicide. If suffering is a reason, then look at the men in the Bible who suffered – assuming this reason is valid, then many had good reasons to commit suicide, yet not only did they not choose death, but they glorified God by staying patiently alive. Job lost his wife, family, friends, sons, wealth, and health in a short period of time, yet he stayed true to God and God blessed him. David was a fugitive for over ten years. Joseph was in Pharaoh’s dungeon for over ten years. And Jesus, although he laid down His own life, did it for His people, and even then, He refused to limit His suffering. Nobody suffered more than Jesus. The idea that we ought to try to escape from our suffering on earth is not found anywhere in scripture. Moses told the children of Israel to choose life or death, blessing or cursing. Any decision to choose death is against the teaching of scriptures.

      God holds everything in His hands including how much we suffer. When you read about the suffering that Paul or the other Apostles went through, it’s easy to be amazed at how much endured, but Paul merely called it all ‘light affliction’ (2 Corinthians 4:16-18). If we are God’s children, then don’t need to concern ourselves about the suffering we may face. God is in full control. If we allow Him to work in our lives, then we can be assured that everything in our life will be for a purpose. If we need to suffer, then as long as we are in God’s will, we are safely in God’s care. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” ~ Romans 8:28.

      We don’t need to worry about any tortures we may face in the future or any trials we may go through since God will be right there by our side to hold us up and to bear us up when they become too hard (Luke 15:5). Daniel’s three friends could withstand the flames of the furnace because God was there with them. When it’s the Christian’s time to die, He will be at His children’s side too.

  • Regina Forbes

    “People with disabilities, advocates against elder abuse are rightly
    concerned that the ‘right to die’ could become a ‘duty to die,’” Peter
    Wolfgang of the Family Institute of Connecticut told those gathered.

    “Is it acceptable for someone’s life to be shortened because people
    may be actually on a wrong prognosis, or because they have been pressed
    to make this final move?” asked Cathy Ludlum of Second Thoughts
    Connecticut, who is disabled.

    These are the same concerns I have. Before we open “Pandora’s Box” it would be wise to study the effects of Physician assisted suicide in other countries. As Christ says “You will know a tree by the fruit it bears”. I certainly wouldn’t want to see another Terri Schiavo debacle. And if this is passed, we may see more cases like hers.

    • John_33

      There certainly are many cases that demonstrate where assisted suicide naturally goes. In Oregon, a patient, Barbara Wagner, was rejected experimental cancer treatment because the state-run health insurance company decided that the cost of the drugs ($4,000/month) was too much to pay. Instead, it offered $50 for assisted suicide drugs. $50. What is that in actual terms? To put it in perspective, I think a year’s worth of Meals on Wheels is more expensive than that. Now add the costs of medication, wheel chairs, rehabilitation therapy, and a host of other life-saving techniques that we normally use for the elderly and sick, and you see how easy assisted suicide becomes an economic decision. It’s a twisted perversion of capitalism to incorporate death into the economy.

      There are a ton of other problems, but I don’t want to bore you. If you are interested in learning where assisted suicide leads, then I highly recommend that you take a look at the Groningen Protocol in the Netherlands and at Belgium’s recent changes in which they removed all age restrictions for assisted suicide (meaning children of any age can now request to die). It’s quite eye opening.