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Why Can’t We Pass An Aid-In-Dying Bill?



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To the Editor:

Last year, a bill concerning Medical Aid in Dying was passed by the Public Health Committee, but then it was referred to the Judiciary Committee for “review” and never heard from again. It’s starting to look like that might happen again this year.

The co-chairman of the Judiciary Committee, State Rep Steve Stafstrom has said there wasn’t enough support last year to bring it to a committee debate and vote.

Seriously? It’s not easy to understand why it’s so hard to pass a bill that lets people decide for themselves about the care at the end of their life.

It’s not some radical new idea. This has been around since Oregon first passed it into law in 1997 and polls have consistently shown solid support for medical aid in dying among Connecticut voters in all demographics including Democrats (84%), Republicans (64%), Independents (74%), younger people (80%), older people (73%), Catholics (69%), Protestants (70%), those with no religious affiliation (89%), white men and women (77%), people of color (72%) and people who have a disability (65%).

The Connecticut State Medical Society has withdrawn its opposition and even the AMA has acknowledged that providing medical aid in dying in no way violates the Code of Medical Ethics. The majority of doctors favor allowing medical aid in dying as an option at the end of life.

There is no opposition coming from the insurance industry, the pharmaceutical industry, hospice or palliative care providers. So, what’s the problem? State Senator Dr Saud Anwar’s statement, “I hope my colleagues will be thoughtful rather than vote based on internal biases,” makes me wonder if legislators might be voting their personal beliefs, rather than representing the people who elected them.

Regardless, it’s hard to understand what the state’s interest is in denying an option that is already available to one in five Americans. For terminally ill Connecticut residents, peace of mind, dignity and the right of self-determination is at stake. So, with no good explanation for why death with dignity is okay in California, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Colorado, Hawaii, New Mexico, New Jersey, Vermont, Maine and Washington D.C. but not Connecticut, I guess I’ll just have to keep wondering.

Paul Bluestein, MD


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