Last year Connecticut state senator Ed Meyer introduced a bill to create “physician-assisted suicide.” It failed, but this year he and state representative Elizabeth Ritter are trying again.
H.B. 5326 would permit a competent person who is suffering from a terminal illness to “request aid in dying” through administration of prescribed medication. The bill is an affront to human life generally, but especially to elder or infirm adults and disabled individuals. For Connecticut citizens who respect life, it is unconscionable.
The bill’s proponents say that assisted suicide is the compassionate answer. But an article in The New York Times summarized that based on numerous studies of patients with severe and in many cases terminal illness, the reason for assisted suicide is rarely pain, or even fear of pain. Patients have reported that their reason for killing themselves is “depression, hopelessness and fear of loss of autonomy and control. … In this light, physician-assisted suicide looks less like a good death in the face of unremitting pain and more like plain old suicide.” The Times poignantly adds, “Typically, our response [to this] is not to give people the means to end their lives but to offer them counseling and caring.”
Supporters of H.B. 5326 contend that it is not open to abuse because it applies only to “a competent person.” But the “assisted” part of “assisted suicide” necessitates the involvement of a second party: a doctor to prescribe lethal drugs to the person killing himself or herself. And that opens the door for people, especially those who depend on others in some way and are most in need of our care and protection, to be influenced toward death.
Moreover, for people who’ve already made up their own minds about dying, this kind of legislation has proven to lead to “physician shopping”—where someone who wants to die goes from doctor to doctor until he or she finds a physician who will prescribe the lethal cocktail of meds.