Connecticut

2020
Assembly Bill HB 5420 has been proposed.
Text of bill
Analysis of bill

April 20, 2020
The Connecticut legislature will remain closed through the constitutional adjournment on May 6 due to the Coronavirus. A special session may or may not be set for later in the year.

“Legislators need to see our tears”
(CT Mirror — March 27, 2020)
“During this time, when the State Capitol complex is closed and legislators are voting by telephone, some people are proposing that critical issues be brought to a vote without a public hearing….According to Sen. Haskell, legalizing doctor-assisted suicide is so critical that it must be pushed through immediately….Trying to preempt opposition under the guise of social distance can only be described as opportunistic.
More on Coronavirus

2019
Bill (HB 5898) has been proposed.
The Division of Criminal Justice raised concerns about the requirement that death certificates be falsified.
Testimony of the Division of Criminal Justice (March 2019)

2018
Bill (HB 5417), called “An Act Concerning End-of-Life Care,” was proposed.  If passed, the bill would have permitted doctor-assisted suicide, referred to as “aid in dying.”  The bill failed to be taken up.
Text of HB 5417
Analysis of HB 5417

2017
Bills proposed:
HB 6024
HB 6238
Both bills were referred to the Public Health Committee but neither received a public hearing.  Both bills are dead for the session.

2015 — Bill did not pass
Bill (No. 7015) to legalize doctor-prescribed suicide has been introduced in CT
Text of bill
Analysis of bill

“Aid-in-dying bill hasn’t gained sufficient support”
(Connecticut Post — April 9, 2015)
For the third consecutive year, controversial legislation that would have allowed doctors to prescribe life-ending drugs to terminally ill patients failed to make it through the General Assembly’s committee process.

“Stage is Set for Aid-in-Dying Showdown”
(Hartford Courant — January 23, 2015)
For the third time in two years, the General Assembly is posed to take up a controversial bill that would permit doctors to legally prescribe a lethal dose of medication to patients with less than six months to live.

Comment:  Ironically, the push to make doctor-prescribed suicide a legitimate medical treatment comes at the same time that services for people with disabilities are being cut back by the state.

“Second Round Budget Cuts Hit Disabled Hardest”
(CT News Junkie — January 23, 2015)
A state agency serving developmentally disabled people took the biggest hit in a round of budget cuts released Friday by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration…The state’s Employment Opportunities & Day Services and Personal Services line items each were cut by at least $3 million….Meanwhile, Malloy reduced the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services budget by $1.3 million.

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Past attempts to legalize assisted suicide in Connecticut

Doctor-prescribed suicide bill in Connecticut fails to gain support.  (4/5/13)
The bill, spearheaded by the national assisted-suicide advocacy group Compassion & Choices (formerly called the Hemlock Society), was pulled from the agenda when it became apparent that it would be defeated. The defeat was due, in large part, to the efforts of disability rights activists.

Background of failed 2013 bill:
Sen. Edward Meyer sponsored a doctor-prescribed suicide bill (HB-6645), called “An Act Concerning Compassionate Aid-in-Dying for Terminally Ill Patients.”
Patterned on the OR and WA assisted-suicide laws, the bill differed, in part, with those laws, creating additional loopholes that place vulnerable patients at risk.

However, it seemed apparent that Sen. Meyer was unaware of the contents of his bill.

In an article, “Senator Meyer on the Controversial Assisted Suicide Bill,” he wrote:
“The bill is full of safeguards.  The patient must be certified by his or her physician plus a consulting physician as terminally ill within 6 months of death.”

But that was not the case.
The bill had a provision permitting a physician to dispense a lethal prescription without requiring a second physician to affirm the patient’s diagnosis and prognosis.
[Section 7 (b)]

He also stated that the patient must “make a written request acknowledged by at least two persons excluding any relative or person who would benefit from the patient’s death.”

Again, an inaccurate statement.
The bill required that only one of the two witnesses not be a relative or someone, such as an heir, who would be entitled to a portion of the patient’s estate.
[Section 3 (c)]

Furthermore, he claimed that “if the patient, in the medical opinion of the attending or consulting physician, is suffering from a psychiatric or psychological condition or depression, then the patient must be referred for counseling before a decision is made that the patient is competent and well informed.”

That claim was also false.
The bill only required that an attending or consulting physician refer a patient for counseling if the physician believes that the patient’s depression or psychiatric or psychological condition may be causing impaired judgment.
[Section 8 (a)]

In addition, the bill required only a written request that can be made at any time after the patient’s diagnosis.

As written, the bill would have permitted a physician to:

Determine (correctly or incorrectly) that a depressed patient had a terminal condition and did not have impaired judgment
and
Write the lethal prescription on the same day as the diagnosis, based on the patient’s written request, witnessed by the patient’s emotionally controlling spouse and that spouse’s close friend or by the patient’s heir and that heir’s best friend.

The attempt was defeated, despite efforts of a national assisted-suicide advocacy group, and was withdrawn from consideration on April 5, 2013.  The advocacy group, Compassion & Choices (formerly called the Hemlock Society), also played a major role in a 2010 failed court case (Blick v. CT) that challenged New Jersey’s law against assisted suicide.

Scroll down for Connecticut news articles

Background

For years, assisted-suicide activists have attempted to transform the crime of assisted suicide into a “medical treatment,” primarily through legislative proposals and voter initiatives. However they have also tried to achieve their agenda by using the courts. As of mid-2009, a case was pending before the Montana Supreme Court.

Assisted-suicide proposals in the Connecticut legislature (1995, 1997 and 2009) failed to gain support for passage.

Connecticut was the latest state to see a court challenge to a state’s assisted-suicide law. On September 30, 2009, the assisted-suicide advocacy group, Compassion & Choices (the former Hemlock Society), filed a complaint on behalf of two Connecticut physicians. The complaint in Blick v. CT sought a declaratory judgment that Connecticut’s law does not provide a valid statutory basis to prosecute any licensed physician who provides an intentional lethal overdose of drugs to certain patients.

Current law regarding assisted suicide

Assisted suicide is a felony in Connecticut.

A person is guilty of manslaughter in the second degree when he intentionally causes or aids another person, other than by force, duress or deception, to commit suicide.
[Conn. Gen. Stat. § 53a-56(a)]

Case: Blick v. CT:  Case dismissed 6/1/10

Blick v. CT centered on persuading the court that assisted suicide is not assisted suicide when it involves a physician and a patient who is dying. Assisted-suicide advocates argued that such a death should be considered “aid-in-dying” and claimed that “‘aid-in-dying’ is a recognized term of medical art.” The Complaint asked the court to find that an assisted-suicide death “does not constitute ‘suicide'” within the meaning of the law.

The Connecticut Attorney’s office filed a Motion to Dismiss the Complaint and a Memorandum in Support of the Motion to Dismiss on November 19, 2009. On June 1, 2010 Superior Court Judge Julia Aurigemma issued her Decision, ordering that the case be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. In her ruling, Judge Aurigemma thoroughly rejected the attempt to redefine the clear meaning of the word “suicide.”  (See page 24 of decision.)

On June 24, 2010 Compassion & Choices announced that it would not appeal the decision.

Articles and Updates

Connecticut Senator Will Haskell (D) plans to introduce a bill that would require completion of advanced directives in order to sign up for Medicare, Medicaid or private health insurance.  
“There should be a law to require plans for end-of-life care”
(Hartford Courant — August 9, 2019)

[Note:  Currently the federal “Patient Self-Determination Act” requires that patients be informed about advance directives however it forbids health care facilities that receive federal funding from making such documents a requirement.  Haskell’s dangerous proposal, if passed, would force patients, perhaps when under pressure from health insurance programs, to sign such documents.
According to an August 9, 2019 Facebook post, Haskell wrote, “How can we lower healthcare costs in Connecticut?”  He answered it by writing, “Let’s make advanced directives universal.”]

“Op-Ed: Physician-assisted suicide is not a choice issue”
(CT Mirror — March 25, 2015)
Physician-assisted death would not exist in a vacuum.  It would be an overlay on a medical system where there is an imperative to reduce costs, where many people are unable to access care and where many practitioners still have the prejudices or misconceptions that abound in society.

“Op-Ed: Assisted suicide would be fraught with problems and abuses”
(CT Mirror — March 6, 2015)
No assisted suicide bill proposed to date requires witnesses at the time of death.  Bills do, however, allow the witnesses to the suicide request to be an heir and a close friend of that heir.  There is no way to know whether the individual took the life-ending drugs voluntarily or was pressured….Let us honor Connecticut’s progressive tradition against discrimination by ensuring equal access to noncoercive suicide prevention services for old, ill, and disabled people, rather than offering suicide assistance.

“Advocates concede defeat on aid-in-dying bill in 2014”
(CT Mirror — March 25, 2014)
The campaign for passage of an aid-in-dying law in Connecticut in 2014 ended Tuesday with a concession that the bill does not have the support in the legislature’s Public Health Committee to reach the House floor.

“Conn. lawmakers revisit aid-in-dying bill: opponents, proponents gear up for latest battle”
(Daily Journal — February 21, 2014)
Connecticut lawmakers agreed Friday to revisit legislation allowing doctors to prescribe medication to help mentally competent, terminally ill patients end their lives, launching one of the more hotly contested issues of this year’s short legislative session.

“Selling suicide with George Soros’ money”
(Washington Examiner — April 4, 2013)
As Connecticut lawmakers begin public hearings on assisted suicide this month, national advocacy groups like Compassion & Choices will mobilize to help create the illusion that the proposed bill is a grassroots initiative.
It isn’t.

Testimony of Joan Cavanaugh before CT Public Health Committee against Passage of “An Act Concerning Compassionate Aid in Dying for Terminally Ill Patients” (March 20, 2013)

“Not Dead Yet Member John Kelly…Against Assisted Suicide Bill”
(News Times — March 20, 2013)
“Underlying the effort to pass HB 6645 is an unwarranted faith in the accuracy of terminal diagoses,” said Kelly. “Doctors admit that they cannot predict when an individual will die. The disability community is full of people who have outlived their diagnoses by years.”

“Senator Meyer on the Controversial Assisted Suicide Bill”
(Branford Seven — March 13, 2013)
For the first time in my service as your State Senator, I have received calls and correspondence urging my introduction of a bill which would permit deeply ill people to receive from his or her physician a medication that would end life.
The bill is full of safeguards.

“Meyer Introduces Physician Assisted Suicide Bill”
(Bradford Seven — January 9, 2013)
Senator Ed Meyer has introduced a bill, “An Act Concerning Physician-Assisted Suicide,” that would allow patients with a terminal illness to take their own life through prescribed medication.  Text of bill.

“Lawmakers Thoughts Linger on Assisted Suicide, Soda & Candy Tax”
(Connecticut News Junkie — November 19, 2012)
With next year’s legislative session set to begin in January, lawmakers are already researching topics for potential bills….One lawmaker has asked the office to summarize the assisted suicide policies of various states… Lawmakers in Connecticut have tried unsuccessfully to enact similar policies in the past.

“Superior Court Judge Dismisses Doctors’ Request to Prescribe Lethal Medication to Terminally Ill”
( Hartford Courant – – June 8, 2010 )
Judge wrote that the term “suicide” is intended to include “self-killing” and that the law does not make any exceptions for doctors who help someone commit suicide. More