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Critics outline case against assisted suicide in Connecticut

by | Mar 18, 2019

By Dave Andrusko

The Connecticut Public Health Committee held what was described as a day-long public hearing today on H.B. 5898, “An Act Concerning Aid In Dying for Terminally Ill Patients, ” which would legalize physician-assisted suicide in Connecticut. The Public Health Committee is one of the joint standing committees of the Connecticut General Assembly.

The Connecticut Post’s Ken Dixon said the meeting “attracted hundreds of people on both sides of the issue.”

H.B. 5898 is strongly opposed by the Pro-Life Council of Connecticut, various disability rights organizations, and the Diocese of Bridgeport. It is likewise strongly supported by the media-savvy and very richly endowed Compassion & Choices. This is the sixth year that physician-assisted legislation has been proposed in the state.

Earlier today The Connecticut State Medical Society announced it has changed its position of opposition to what it calls “engaged neutrality.”

Dixon began his story with something rarely seen in media accounts: opponents of assisted suicide explaining why they rigorously oppose assisted suicide legislation:

Dr. Joseph Andrews Jr., chief medical officer at the Connecticut Hospice Inc., in Branford, said claims of a need to ease the suffering of dying patients are basically false, because of the variety of painkillers and other services currently available.

“We can bring the whole force of civilizing interest to bear on pain, and we greatly succeed in our mission,” Andrews told the Public Health Committee during a daylong hearing in the Legislative Office Building.

Andrews said that in his seven years at the hospice, which admits between 1,200 and 1,400 terminally ill patients each year, he can remember no more than four conversations about doctor-assisted suicide.

“If you do the job right in palliative care, this becomes a relative non-issue,” Andrews said.

After giving proponents a chance to explain why they support H.B. 5898, Dixon doubled back to critics:

The bill is called “An Act Concerning Passionate Aid in Dying for Terminally Ill Patients,” but Sen. Michael A. McLachlan, R-Danbury, said that even those with long odds for survival can often extend their lives far beyond the predictions of doctors.

“I think of one particular person I’ve known for many, many years who had a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, and survival rates for that illness are low, as cancer survivorship goes,” he said. “Now this individual is 13 years past their successful treatment.”

The Rev. Walter Nagle, a Catholic priest who recently lost his mother, said palliative care is crucial.

“This is not a religious issue. It is a human-rights issue,” he said. “We need to be the hands and feet to care for and love the most vulnerable in our midst. For you see, it is not just about the terminally ill patient, it is also about the loved ones left behind.”

Susan Smith, President of Pro-Life Council of Connecticut, outlined to NRL News Today the many reasons NRLC’s state affiliate rigorously opposes the bill. Those objections include:

  • Bill H.B. 5898 AN ACT CONCERNING END OF LIFE CARE, phrase is camouflaged by what is really going on here, and it is NOT END OF LIFE CARE, it is Assisted Suicide. It would legalize the act of a physician dispensing and prescribing drugs to bring about their patient’s death (over 18 years old; who may die within a 6 month period).
  • NO TRAINED personnel is required to be PRESENT at the time the lethal drugs are consumed. There is NO SUPERVISION of the suicide pills in the home where children may reside.
  • Patients suffering from severe mental depression are NOT REQUIRED to have counseling or to have a psychiatric analysis.
  • Elder abuse is a major health issue here in the USA. Allowing abusers, inheritors of the patient’s estate, access to these lethal Suicide Pills is dangerous.
  • Additionally, legalizing assisted suicide is the first step for Insurance Companies to deny any additional lifesaving treatment. It cheaper to prescribe lethal drugs.

“If you legalize euthanasia in Connecticut, no one will be safe. Every person will be at risk from adults suffering from Alzheimer’s, severe mental depression to infants born with mental or physical disabilities.

Smith concluded,

Connecticut should be implementing REAL quality ‘END OF LIFE CARE’ especially for pain management. Physicians should be making sure that their patients are legally protected and receiving lifesaving treatment in comfort instead of exterminating them.

Categories: Assisted Suicide