End-of-life bill dies in committee

A proposal to allow doctors to prescribe lethal medication to terminally ill, mentally competent patients won’t make it out of the Public Health Committee this year.

Supporters said the bill had enough support to clear the committee, but it was removed from the agenda out of concern that a lengthy discussion could stymie the rest of the committee’s work. Friday is the committee’s deadline for moving bills forward.

In a statement, Rep. Betsy Ritter, D-Waterford, one of the proposal’s main legislative boosters, said the bill would be raised again next year. Supporters will hold informational hearings and solicit input from the public, she said.

Before Friday, supporters and opponents of the measure had made passionate appeals. Those who favored the bill said it represents a compassionate way to help people who would otherwise suffer excruciating pain in their final days, and would give people a measure of control at the end of their lives. Those who oppose it say it could lead people with illnesses or disabilities to be pressured to end their lives to avoid being a burden, and that focus should instead be placed on hospice and palliative care.

Last week, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said he’d read up on similar laws in other states and reflected on the issue, but had not made a decision about the Connecticut bill.