New Effort at Death with Dignity Law in Connecticut
On February 26th I gave testimony before the Connecticut legislature, regarding Raised Bill 6425, An Act regarding medical aid in dying. I gave it as Chair of the Elder Law Section of the Connecticut Bar Association, and its roughly 500 members. The testimony, which can be found on this website under the Death with Dignity tab on the Articles page, expressed conditional support for the bill, requiring a few (in my opinion) relatively small changes to be made.
The gist of the concept, with which I think many of you are familiar, is that a competent adult resident of Connecticut, who has been determined by two physicians to be in the final stages of a terminal illness that is anticipated to end their life within six months, could receive from a physician willing to participate in the process, a medication for the person to self-ingest, and hasten the death before enduring the full brunt of the disease process. Bills of this nature have been before the legislature at least since 2013 here in Connecticut but have failed to pass. Advocates of the law, of which I am one, hope this year may be different.
This sort of law is now in effect in nine states, and from what I have been able to discern, has been in effect without any abuses or misuse. Based on what is happening in other states, we have reason to know how such a law would work here. Not all that many persons would use it, but of those who do, it can let them develop some peace of mind, and decide if at some point it is time to hasten their death.
To my knowledge, these laws are based on the Oregon Death With Dignity Act, from 1994, and each year an in depth study is conducted and published on the effects and use of the law. The reports are easy to find online, and the 2019 report recites that 68% of the people who used the law had cancer, and 94% died at home, and 90% in hospice care. About one third of those who get the medication never use it but draw comfort from knowing they have that remedy available to them.
If you live in Eastern Connecticut, there is a high likelihood that your state senator and legislator refuse to grant Connecticut residents these rights. Some say they are keeping their minds open, while annually failing to support this law, which is the same as opposing it.
This is a complex issue, and I respect those who oppose this legislation on moral or religious grounds, but I do feel that such views should not be imposed on others who do not hold those same views.
Please consider reaching out to your legislator to let them know your views on this topic, by e mail or phone (it’s pretty easy to find this information, but if you have trouble finding it please contact me and I’ll help).