Last week, there was a public hearing about House Bill 5898 – An Act Concerning Medical Aid in Dying for Terminally Ill Patients. Now, the members of the Public Health Committee will decide whether this proposal will be allowed to be discussed and voted on by the entire General Assembly.  Although legislation which would allow terminally ill patients the option to choose medical aid in dying has been proposed many times in the past 20 years, no bill has ever made it out of committee.

Despite the fact that a majority of doctors and 70 percent of Americans support medical aid in dying as an end of life choice, legislators in Connecticut have never once allowed such a proposal to see the light of day. This year, as in the past, there are members of the Public Health Committee who favor this bill and there are those who oppose it. Given what I know about the general public’s support for medical aid in dying, I don’t believe those who oppose it are representing what their constituents want.

Regardless, I don’t think that only 26 Public Health Committee members should decide what is literally a life and death matter. This bill deserves, at the very least, to be considered by the entire General Assembly. It was said during the public hearing that Connecticut, which was once known as “The Land of Steady Habits” has now come to be known as “The Land of No.”

Saying “No” to terminally ill patients who just want the option of a peaceful, dignified death is bad enough, but letting a handful of people kill the bill in committee is shameful.

Paul Bluestein, MD, lives in Bridgeport.

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