Here’s why the Connecticut legislature’s Public Health Committee should vote to approve the medical aid in dying bill.
Very soon, members of the Connecticut House and Senate will be voting on HB6425, – the Medical Aid in Dying bill. More than 20 years ago, Oregon implemented its Death with Dignity Act. Since then, Washington, Vermont, California, Montana, Colorado, Maine, Washington DC, Hawaii and most recently New Mexico have passed legislation authorizing medical aid in dying for terminally ill adults. But not Connecticut.
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.
I owe an apology to the Connecticut State Medical Society. Last year, I wrote a letter to the Connecticut Mirror criticizing the CSMS for its years of opposition to medical aid-in-dying. What I didn’t know at the time was that the CSMS physician leadership had been in the process of re-evaluating the CSMS policy concerning death with dignity.
I was a post-war baby, raised in the 1950s in a racist, homophobic, anti-immigrant, sexually repressed, theocratic America. Civil rights for people of color and “queers” were non-existent. Women’s rights were virtually unknown and women’s liberation was widely regarded as a plot to destroy the American family. Legal abortion was more than a decade away and even providing contraceptives to married couples was illegal until 1965 when, in the Griswold v. Connecticut decision, the U.S. Supreme Court declared this prohibition an unconstitutional invasion of privacy.