Showdown on Assisted Suicide Bill at the Capitol

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Citizens on opposite sides of the debate over doctor-assisted suicide came to the state Capitol complex Thursday morning in advance of a hearing on the measure.
House Bill 6645 would allow  a physician to prescribe medication that a mentally competent, terminally ill patient could take to end his or her life.
Backers of the bill say it provides a measure of relief to the terminally ill, even if they never decide to take steps to end their lives.

\”I was diagnosed with ALS two and a half years ago,\’\’ said Sara Meyers, who came to the Hartford to testify in support of the measure. \”And I am in the position of facing total paralysis–a lack of everything except the way my mind works,\’\’ she said. \”And I am here to support this bill because…I want the choice, whether I use it or not. I think it\’s a very, very important choice.\” (Critics say people with ALS would likely not be covered by the bill because they would not be capable of self-administering the lethal dose of medication.)

At a press conference before the public health committee hearing organized by a group called Second Thoughts that opposes assisted suicide, critics said the measure lacks sufficient safeguards and could lead to abuse. \”We will be killing our vulnerable parents and grandparents through public policy,\’\’ said Teresa Wells, a nursing home administrator.

James McGaughey, executive director of the state Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities, said he opposes the bill because it legitimizes suicide. The line between terminally illness and a progressive disability is often a fine one, he says.

\”Would it not be better to invest in truly compassionate care, to expand the availability of first class palliative medicine and enlarge the scope of hospice programs that to open the door to abuses and cross into the highly problematic, morally questionable territory of legalizing assisted suicide?\” McGaughey wrote in testimony he provided to the committee.

Supporters of the bill, who also gathered at the Capitol before the hearing, said there are sufficient safeguards to guard against abuses. Patients would have to undergo a screening by a physician to ensure they are psychologically competent and acting voluntarily. Only those with less than six months to live would be permitted to obtain the lethal medication.

\”Terminally ill people are not necessarily disabled and disabled people are not necessarily terminally,\’\’ said Dr. Gary Blick of Norwalk. \”If my mother, who\’s 91 years old, has a stroke and she\’s in a wheelchair, they\’re saying she\’s going to be a burden to me so I\’m going to take these medicines and throw them down her throat and take her, that\’s a felony. That\’s called murder.\”
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21 thoughts on “Showdown on Assisted Suicide Bill at the Capitol

  1. Norm Scott

    This is why we must ban all guns, and the h-ll with the Constitution. Why should anyone have the freedom to end their own life, quickly and efficiently, no matter how permanently painful their condition might be, when there are so many folks depending on the terminally ill for their income?

    Forget liberty, just raise taxes and hire more government staff to tell us what to do. Passing laws to prosecute those who commit suicide without permission can come later.

    1. The Conn-servative

      I’m having a hard time with your logic so bear with my stupidity,but how does passing laws to be used against those who committe suicide actually punish anyone?

    2. enness

      What is the name of the parallel universe where you live…assisted suicide is often less expensive for the HMOs than treatment. It’s “resource conservation” which is why there will be pressure.

      Make no mistake, bills like these give immunity to doctors and nursing homes, they don’t protect patients.

  2. Kim

    The fight against the right to die is right in line with bill katz position. Suicides are too easy when guns are used so let’s ban guns – which would also lead to less suicides. Never mind that if suicide is your goal, then a gun is more of a guarantee of success, with less pain, less suffering, more instantaneous results, etc. But those like Bill Katz wouldn’t want your suicide to be quick and easy, or successful, so don’t use a gun.

    The bottom line is that he doesn’t think people should make their own life decisions.
    —Suffering in terrible pain with no hope of relief or a cure? Live with it.
    —Worried about being raped and mugged by unruly, unlawful gangs? Don’t you dare defend yourself.
    —Concerned about the rash of home invasions in your neighborhood? Toughen up and walk it off
    —Troubled by government atttempts to curtail liberty and take everything you own? It’s your duty so love it or leave it.

    In the meantime, he allows himself the very options he denies others, by insisting on keeping his shotgun. After all, he knows what is best for you and he believes that government agrees with him and should push his agenda by force it necessary, onto the rest of us.

    This type of person is what the second amendment was designed to protect us against – the person who wants to force his will on everyone else, while sitting in his throne laughing down at the rest of us

    1. enness

      “Suffering in terrible pain with no hope of relief or a cure? Live with it.”

      That’s complete BS, Kim. If they’re in excruciating pain then they’re not being treated properly. The answer is to treat their pain, not help them off themselves.

      1. Kim

        enness: some pain cannot be treated successfully. Hopefully, you won’t have to learn that lesson the hard way

  3. Kim

    “Would it not be better to invest in truly compassionate care, to expand the availability of first class palliative medicine and enlarge the scope of hospice programs that to open the door to abuses and cross into the highly problematic, morally questionable territory of legalizing assisted suicide?” McGaughey wrote in testimony he provided to the committee.

    Question: Better for whom?

    1. enness

      You’ve got to be kidding, right? Better for everyone, except maybe an HMO’s bottom line.

      1. Kim

        enness: please look up the word ‘obtuse’. You’ve indicated that preventing people from ending their own lives is better for EVERYONE – I’m sure that the person in pain would disagree with you. Why do you feel that YOU should be the one making this most personal of decisions? Shall I make your decisions for YOU?

  4. lidy woickelman

    please pass this bill…i for one do not want to spend my golden years shiXXing and Pixxing myself (should it come to that) and in extreme pain. It should be my choice how/when to end suffering. If you choose not to be it. suffer.

  5. Dee R

    This bill should be passed. Animals with a terminal illness are euthanised, as it is the compassionate thing to do. We don’t want to see our pets suffer or be in pain. Why not for humans?

  6. enness

    This is a terribly written bill for a terrible idea. There is no “safeguard” in it that can’t be gotten around. I hope it gets crushed.

  7. enness

    “If my mother, who’s 91 years old, has a stroke and she’s in a wheelchair, they’re saying she’s going to be a burden to me so I’m going to take these medicines and throw them down her throat and take her, that’s a felony. That’s called murder.”

    No Blick, not you. But it doesn’t take much imagination to realize there are many kinds of people in this world and some of them would do that, and have a perfect cover story under the law.

  8. Lynne

    Dee R. has it right. We are kinder to our animals than we are to our human bretheren. Pet owners who see their beloved animals in pain usually hang onto them longer than they should, only because we love them so much and we don’t want to let them go. But when they’ve lost their faculties and are in riddled with pain, we should be kind to humans also.

    I had a loved one who pleaded with his doctors to end the pain he had at the end of his life. He fought like a tiger, pleading with them to help him let go…had to before a board of physicians…and they finally did as he wished. We were all gathered around him when he said “Goodbye” and he was so at peace: his face said it all to us, though we were weeping uncontrollably. We were so glad that he no longer had to suffer the unimaginable pain,not to mention the unfathomable medical expenses that amass at then end of life. I’m sure that the money-grubbing health insurance company was sorry to see him go too, but for different reasons than we were (I know…I used to work for a health insurance behemoth).

    Freedom of choice erodes more and more with each passing year for all of us. At the end of my life, if quality of life is impossible, GIVE ME THE SHOT!!!

    1. scrabbled

      Read the bill. There is NO shot. There are no witnesses. There is only you, with pill, after pill, after pill, after pill. AND, you don’t even have to tell your family.

    2. Kim

      enness? Here’s an example of where pain could not be treated successfully. Care to rethink your position above or do you prefer to continue sounding foolish by pretending you know all about pain and victims?

  9. Kim

    A politician in California is trying to pass a law that would ban smoking IN YOUR OWN HOME.

    NYC Mayor wants to ban large soft drinks.

    This is how government works – take away your freedoms a little at a time.

    For all you anti-gunners who are smokers and large soft drink drinkers: when they come after you to make you quit smoking in your own home, or on ANY OTHER ISSUE where your personal choices are threatened (and they WILL eventually), you’ll understand when gun owners aren’t there to defend or support you.

    When they come after you for your religious beliefs – you’re on your own.

    When they come after you for alcolhol consumption (again) – don’t come crying to NRA members.

    When they increase their attack on your first amendment rights (ask Woodward about White House pressure on him) – please don’t speak to us about it or expect sympathy.

    What goes around……you know the rest.

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