The legislature’s Public Health Committee heard testimony Wednesday from supporters and opponents of a bill that would legalize physician-assisted suicide in Connecticut.
The legislation would allow a physician to prescribe medication to a patient who has six months or less to live, and has been deemed mentally competent. The patient could then take the drug to end their life.
Critics says Connecticut’s bill lacks adequate safeguards and could lead to abuse of the disabled and elderly.
Republican State Senator Michael McLachlin says its not a decision for elected officials to make.
"This legislation promotes the culture of assisted suicide in Connecticut, and tells citizens that suicide is an acceptable solution to life’s hardships. I beg to differ. Suicide is not the answer."
Westport resident Bill Meyer the Third spoke out in support of the measure. In 1991, his 88- year old father who had terminal cancer asked his son to help him take his own life, which Meyer did.
"It’s a choice issue. As my father’s doctor said, he says Its not for everybody. I think its an individual choice issue and I have just as much respect for people that don’t want to do this."
Three years later he was arrested for helping his father kill himself. In a pretrial hearing, he was placed on accelerated rehabilitation and did not go to trial.
"When I was arrested, what really impressed me was how many people wrote to me and said they had an experience in their life where a loved one died and they wished they’d done what I did but they didn’t have the courage."
Assisted suicide is legal in Oregon and Washington state.
For WNPR, I’m Diane Orson.