Legislature Will Revisit Right-To-Die Bill

Jan 30, 2014

Sarah Myers has ALS and spoke in support of right-to-die legislation.
Credit Ray Hardman / WNPR

Supporters of legislation that would allow terminally ill patients the right to die gathered at the Capitol Wednesday. The event was sponsored by the advocacy group Compassion & Choices.

Last year's legislation that would have allowed a terminally ill patient to request medication from a doctor that would end his or her life didn't get out of the Public Health Committee. Right-to-die supporters say this year could be different, with a new aid in dying law in Vermont and a recent court action in New Mexico.

State Representative Betsy Ritter, who co-sponsored last years bill said she will introduce similar legislation this year. She said attitudes about right to die are evolving. 

"This is an issue that for many people takes consideration," said Ritter. "Perhaps if it's something you're unfamiliar with, it takes some education and time."

Ritter cited a 2011 poll commissioned by Compassion & Choices where a majority of the Connecticut residents surveyed said they'd support a terminally ill, mentally competent patient's right to die.

One of the speakers at the press conference was Sarah Myers. She's a Kent resident who suffers from ALS. 

"All the muscles in my body are dying," said Myers. "I wish I had the choice to have help when enough is enough, to end my suffering."

After Wednesday's press conference, Republican State Senator John Kissell issued a statement calling the legislation a "slippery slope for those who can’t advocate well for themselves." He added that the measure "goes against every fiber of a physicians obligation" as a healer.

Compassion & Choices will present an installation at the Capitol Rotunda starting Friday featuring photographs and quotes from aid-in-dying supporters throughout Connecticut.