“Aid in Dying” or “Assisted Suicide?”; lawmakers look over bill

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Is it compassionate “Aid in Dying” for those who are terminally ill, or is it “assisted suicide” that could turn into a “duty to die”? Those are the questions state lawmakers are facing this week during a big push for the “Aid in Dying” bill.

Cathy Ludlum of Manchester fears that a proposed “Aid in Dying” law could be a very slippery slope. She fears that severe disabilities, like hers, could be misunderstood as terminal conditions, and people could be pushed into what she calls “assisted suicide.”  

“If you feel like you’re a burden on your family or your worried about resources and cuts in services,” said Ludlum.

“People with disabilities, advocates against elder abuse are rightly concerned that the ‘right to die’ could become a ‘duty to die,'” said Peter Wolfgang of the Family Institute of Connecticut.

But dozens of Connecticut residents facing painful deaths from terminal diseases, like 74-year-old Chuck Silbert of Ridgefield, are urging lawmakers to pass the so-called ‘Aid in Dying’ bill. Silbert has been diagnosed with metastastic prostate cancer that has spread to his lungs. 

“Connecticut, the Constitution State, should join the five other states that guarantee the ultimate liberty, the right to die with dignity,” said Silbert.

Advocates are asking lawmakers to pass this law that would allow physicians to prescribe a lethal dose to those who are within six months of dying from a terminal illness and are mentally able to make the decision, like Karina Danvers of West Haven, who feels healthy now, but has been diagnosed with AIDS. 

“In my dying I would like to have at my disposal as many medical choices as I have while living,” she said.

But the biggest opponent of the bill is the Catholic Church, which believes this is an affront to its teachings and that current end of life care is already adequately addressing the pain and suffering of terminally ill patients.  

“In all of our research we believe that the palliative care is absolutely the way to go when you have people dealing with end of life issues,” said Michael Culhane of the Connecticut Catholic Conference.

Both sides are expected to turn out in large numbers on this issue during a big public hearing at the Capitol Complex on Wednesday.

Lawmakers in Hartford are looking over a very controversial bill today.

It deals with assisted suicide. Supporters want legislation that would allow the terminally ill and mentally competent patients to have the right to choose death.

They call it death with dignity. It would allow doctor’s to prescribe medication that would end the patients lives.

The patient would have to submit two written requests to their doctor and it would have to be witnessed by someone other than a family member.

But others are against the idea saying “mistakes” could be made, ending the life of a person who doesn’t necessarily want to die.

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