Physician-Assisted Suicide Bill Again Introduced in Connecticut

Photo Credit: Julia Freeman Woolpert

HARTFORD, Conn. — For the fourth time, lawmakers in Connecticut have introduced a bill that would allow terminally ill patients to request a lethal prescription to hasten their death.

House Bill 5898, presented by Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, D-Westport, is currently before the Assembly Public Health Committee.

The bill would allow those who have a terminal illness, defined as those who are in “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,” to advise their doctor that they wish to obtain the life-ending drug.

“A patient who is an adult, is competent, is a resident of this state, has been determined by such patient’s attending physician to have a terminal illness, and has voluntarily expressed his or her wish to receive aid in dying, may request aid in dying by making two written requests to such patient’s attending physician,” the legislation reads in part.

The patient must provide the written requests no sooner than 15 days apart, and those serving as a witness to the submission may not be a blood relative, an heir, or an employee of the health care facility that is providing treatment.

The individual may choose not to advise their family at all that they have opted for physician-assisted suicide, as the sample text provided in the bill includes the option, “I have decided not to inform my family of my decision.”

The attending physician would be required to twice offer the patient the opportunity to change his or her mind, and if the individual appears to be suffering from depression or other form of impaired judgment, they would be mandated to be referred for counseling.

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“An attending physician shall not provide the patient aid in dying until the person providing such counseling determines that the patient is not suffering a psychiatric or psychological condition including, but not limited to, depression, that is causing impaired judgment,” the measure states.

Read the bill in full here.

According to the Stamford Advocate, dozens spoke both for and against the proposal on Monday during a public hearing at the capitol.

“What this legislation is really about is who decides,” remarked Kim Callinan of the medical aid in dying advocacy group Compassion and Choices. “Is it the terminally ill person in consultation with their doctor, their faith leaders and their loved ones — or the government?”

Cathy Ludlum of Second Thoughts Connecticut, which lobbies on behalf of those with disabilities, argued that some who request physician-assisted suicide “are not in pain, but are are suffering from a loss of dignity, a loss of activities, [or] a loss of autonomy.”

Rep. Vincent Candelora, R-North Branford, said that he was concerned that the matter continues to come before the legislature, “telling people their lives are not worth living.”

The Associated Press reports that H.B. 5898 is the fourth of its kind since 2014, and none of the past legislation has been brought up for a vote.

As previously reported, a similar bill was recently introduced in Arkansas by a Republican lawmaker, but failed in committee as none made a motion to advance the legislation to the full House.

Job 14:5 states that man’s “days are determined” and “the number of his months are with Thee.” Hebrews 9:27 also teaches, “[I]t is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.”

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