by Joan Cavanagh, Progressives Against Medical Assisted Suicide
SB 1076, making it legal for doctors to prescribe lethal drugs for terminally ill patients, was halted in the Judiciary Committee on April 19. The Committee decided not to call for a vote because there was not nearly enough support to pass the legislation. A number of Democrats on the Committee clearly did not share the enthusiasm of some of their colleagues for this dangerous bill, which would threaten the lives of the most vulnerable in our discriminatory, profit-driven medical system.
During the subsequent discussion, it was clear that opposition to this legislation does not merely come from those with a religious perspective, thanks to Rep. Steven Strafstrom (D., Bridgeport), as well as signs held by members of Progressives Against Medical Assisted. In concluding remarks, Stafstrom acknowledged the pain and grief of some of the individual advocates of the bill, but added: “I also want to acknowledge that this is not an issue where there is only passion on one side. I think there is passion and also rightfully concern on the other side of this, which we heard a little bit on this committee today, and certainly we’ve heard in our discussions in the Democratic caucus on this bill over the last few years as well. And no, it’s not all about religion. I’m tired of hearing that…Frankly it’s insulting.”
Stafstrom said that he had been “struggling” with the bill but had begun increasingly to question it in part because of recent legislative and judicial efforts in states such as Oregon and Vermont, where Medical Assisted Suicide is legal, to weaken or remove even the currently existing restrictions. One of the arguments Second Thoughts Connecticut and Progressives Against Medical Assisted Suicide have repeatedly made against this legislation is that it is the strategy of Compassion and Choices to first get the laws enacted and then to expand their scope either through the legislature or through the courts.
Many thanks to those who have written, spoken, and worked against this bill for the last five months.