“Committee defeats end-of-life bill in parliamentary tactic”
(AP – April 11, 2022)
The Connecticut bill to legalize doctor-prescribed suicide in Connecticut was defeated on April 11 when a motion was made to “divide the committee.” That meant that only senators on a panel could vote on the legislation. In Connecticut, committees are comprised of both House and Senate members.
Ultimately, the senators defeated the bill on a 5-4 vote with 1 Democrat and 4 Republicans opposing the measure.
“Lisa Blumberg: Medically assisted suicide: It’s not that simple”
(Hartford Courant — February 25, 2022)
“[T]here is no magic pill for a gentle death. No assisted suicide law gives doctor guidance on what a drug prescription to end of life should contain. In Oregon, it has sometimes taken people up to 72 hours to die. With doctors free to devise a cocktail involving multiple drugs and desiring to keep costs down, side effects like burned mouths or seizures can occur. Terry Law, a frequently active assisted suicide doctor, said, ‘There’s lots of data on stuff that helps people live longer, but there’s very little data on how to kill people….'”
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CONNECTICUT PUBLIC HEALTH COMMITTEE
Testimony Opposing SB 88
An Act Concerning Aid in Dying for Terminally Ill Patients February 23, 2022
Co-chairs and members of the Public Health Committee:
My name is Cathy Ludlum, and I am one of the leaders of Second Thoughts Connecticut, a group of disabled people and allies who are working to prevent the legalization of medical assisted suicide. I am opposed to SB 88.
The question at hand is not whether people can take their own lives. Suicide is not illegal. The question is how many other struggling people will follow their lead, pressured by society and assisted by the healthcare system to die?
Every year when this bill comes up, I testify against it. I stand before you as a competent, creative, and successful professional who has a good life while experiencing a high level of disability.
Not this year.
The shortage of direct care workers (whether you call them personal assistants, PCAs, or home health aides) has reached a point where lives hang in the balance, including mine.
Yes, I am talking about the fact that people are not consistently getting out of bed in the morning, or must go to bed at 5 in the afternoon. Sometimes meals are skipped or other bodily needs go unmet because there is no one to assist with these critical activities.
These workers are significantly undercompensated and are leaving the field by the hundreds because they cannot make ends meet. They do not feel respected or appreciated, and the value of the support they provide has been largely unrecognized.
But in the context of today’s legislation, I am talking about the psychological impact of being severely disabled and not having enough support …for years.
Every so often, someone asks what medical assisted suicide has to do with disability. For two decades, the disability community has been pointing to the End-of-Life Concerns listed in the Oregon and Washington State data summaries. The top four concerns never change:
From the Oregon Death with Dignity Act 2020 Data Summary 1
- Less able to engage in activities making life enjoyable (94.3%)
- Losing autonomy (93.1%)
- Loss of dignity (71.8%)
- Burden on family, friends/caregivers (53.1%)
From the Washington State 2020 Death with Dignity Act Report 2
- Less able to engage in activities making life enjoyable (90.6%)
- Losing autonomy (89.6%)
- Loss of dignity (74.8%)
- Burden on family, friends/caregivers (58.6%)
Let me show how this is relevant to me and my colleagues.
Less able to engage in activities making life enjoyable — With the dedicated support of my personal assistants, I have lived in my own home for 30 years, worked, traveled, done things with friends, and basically had a great life. That seems to be over as I struggle to get enough supports. Advertising no longer produces new hires. Without enough workers, my focus every day has to be on shifting people around so I can get my most basic needs met.
Losing autonomy – My independence depends on interdependence. Technology allows me to do a few things for myself, mainly on the computer. But without human assistance, I cannot clean my house, take a shower, or get to a doctor’s appointment; much less work toward my personal and business goals.
Loss of dignity – I believe that dignity is inherent in everyone, but not everyone is treated that way. I have had to hire a number of people who were literally repulsed by normal bodily functions. Some hurt me with their words. I have adjusted so many things in my life, my home, my relationships, and my personal care that I don’t even know where I can trim anymore.
Burden on family, friends/caregivers – Everyone is going to burn out eventually. Not having enough workers, I overrely on the ones I have left. In times past, I had backup assistants, but you can’t find those now. When I cannot find anyone else, I have to rely on friends, some in their 70s, to provide care. I know like I’ve never known before what it means to feel like a burden.
I am telling my story because I want you to understand that death has begun to look preferable to living like this.
You can keep saying that medical assisted suicide is not intended for the likes of me, but it takes a lot of effort every single day to keep my body working and my lungs breathing… and increasingly I think about giving up.
Don’t believe I would qualify under SB 88? Look at the bill. It clearly points to people like me as appropriate users of medical assisted suicide.
Sec. 1 (21) “Terminal illness” means 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 if the progression of such condition follows its typical course.
The progression of spinal muscular atrophy is death if it follows its typical course. I am almost 60 years old because I have been vigorously interfering with the typical course of SMA. When I was 35 I became unable to eat enough to sustain my life and started using a feeding tube. At 38 I was choking in my sleep so I started using respiratory support.
SB 88 says nothing about the impact of treatment on life expectancy. The public likely assumes that the lethal prescription is only available to people who have exhausted all treatment options. But this is not so. An individual may stop life-sustaining medications or technologies at any point, rendering them terminal within six months. In my case, we are talking days, not months.
In their discussion on whether people with anorexia qualify for assisted suicide, the American Clinician’s Academy on Medical Aid in Dying’s (ACAMAID) Ethics Consultation Service notes:
Mandating that the patient exhaust all possible treatments before requesting aid in dying is not in keeping with other “terminal” illnesses. For example, we allow patients with end stage cancer to forgo chemotherapy or other potentially life – extending treatments and request medical aid in dying. 3
As an Oregon official has clarified in writing, any person who becomes terminal because they do not receive treatment, for any reason (including not only refusal of treatment, but inability to pay for treatment), would qualify for assisted suicide under an Oregon-type law. 4 5
The law is best seen as a permissive law, and states only that patients must have a terminal illness with six months or less to live. It does not compel patients to have exhausted all treatment options first, or to continue current treatment. It is up to the patient and doctor to discuss disease and treatment options. But if the patient decides they don’t want treatment, that is their choice.
I am not suggesting that people be forced to accept treatment they do not want. But we must understand that populations other than those traditionally considered to be terminal (end stages of cancer, COPD, kidney failure, for example) will be affected by this legislation.
Refusal of treatments that have previously allowed people not only to live, but to thrive, should point in the direction of suicide prevention. Instead, there is too often an assumption that death is imminent and even preferable. Connecticut’s State Suicide Prevention Plan 2025 describes the challenges faced by disabled people in getting equal access to suicide prevention services. It also acknowledges that physician assisted suicide puts people with disabilities at particular risk. Please see pp. 56-58. 6
Suicide is contagious, and this is suicide, no matter how often and fervently you deny it.
I am not alone. Many people are hanging on by a thread. Maybe because of unmet disability needs. Maybe because of economic distress. Maybe from isolation and sadness.
Do we as a society want to strengthen that thread so it does not break? Do we want to make sure people who need supports (whether home care or other supports) get them?
Or do we want to create a policy that says, in effect, “ending your life is reasonable if your problems are big enough”? Given that wink of approval, some (I suggest many) will cut that thread. Perhaps not right away, but more and more as the years go by.
I am aware that there is intense pressure to get this bill passed in this legislative session. If it does, there will be plenty of time to go back later and gut the hollow safeguards it contains. This is already happening in other states.
Again, I say, the question at hand is not whether people can take their own lives. The question is how many other struggling people, pressured by society and assisted by the healthcare system, will follow their lead?
SB 88 is bad medicine, bad for people, and bad public policy. Please vote NO. Thank you.
1 Oregon Death with Dignity Act 2020 Data Summary https://www.oregon.gov/oha/PH/PROVIDERPARTNERRESOURCES/EVALUATIONRESEARCH/DEATHWITHDIGNITYACT/Pages/ar-index.aspx
2 Washington State 2020 Death with Dignity Act Report
3 Summary of Consultation concerning a Patient with Anorexia Nervosa, American Clinicians Academy on Medical Aid in Dying (ACAMAID), Aid in Dying Ethics Consultation Service
4 Fabian Stahle, “Oregon Health Authority Reveals Hidden Problems with the Oregon Assisted Suicide Model”
5 “Diabetics Eligible for Physician Assisted Suicide Oregon, ” The Washington Times https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/jan/11/diabetics-eligible-physician-assisted-suicide-oreg/
6 Connecticut’s State Suicide Prevention Plan 2025, pp. 56-58
Assembly Raised Bill No. 88 has been proposed.
Text of bill
Assembly Bill HB 6425 has been proposed.
Text of bill
Analysis of bill
On April 20, 2021 the House Judiciary Committee adjourned without taking up the bill, meaning that it is finished for the year unless it gets tacked onto another bill.
“Bill’s death is another chance to improve the lives of those suffering”
(CT Mirror — June 21, 2021)
Last session, legislation for assisted suicide failed to move forward in the [Connecticut] General Assembly’s Judiciary Committee. The death of this bill in the committee will allow for continued protection of the state’s most vulnerable people.
On March 5, 2021, the bill was approved by the state Public Health Committee by a vote of 24-9. The bill now goes the CT General Assembly.“Assisted suicide lobby spreads falsehoods to promote ableism”
(Connecticut Mirror — March 8, 2021)
“Legislators and the public should not be fooled by a privileged lobby that seeks to sell suicide as a solution to their own disability phobia”
More on Disability Perspective
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
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)
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
Both bills were referred to the Public Health Committee but neither received a public hearing. Both bills are dead for the session.
“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.
Scroll down for news articles
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
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
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.
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