On Oct. 5, 2015, California became the fifth state to pass the law to legalize assisted suicide. This has been in the news recently when 29-year-old Brittany Maynard, who had terminal brain cancer, chose to go to Oregon and die. Oregon is one of the states that has legal physician assisted suicide. The question of assisted suicide is becoming more relevant as the population in the United States ages. Connecticut has fallen behind with getting this law passed in the legislature.
I would like to respond to the article titled “Physician-assisted suicide is not a choice issue,” which appeared in the March 25 edition of CT Mirror and was written by Lisa Blumberg. In simplest terms, her letter denounces aid in dying, which is immediately evidence by her use of the term “physician-assisted suicide.” Death with dignity is a sensible death; suicide, as we normally think of it, is a senseless death. I strongly support aid in dying (also referred to as death with dignity) because I believe that it is a person’s right and that in well-defined circumstances, it is a compassionate and helpful option.
The quiet death in committee of the so-called aid-in-dying bill is another instance of legislator’s ducking their responsibility to vote on and make their positions known on controversial issues. The “Too Difficult” sign is simply constraining our policy choices, locking us in a system that is not working.
Let’s spend our scarce state resources improving access to modern palliative care techniques, increasing funding for home health-care aides and research into treatments that will improve care for the elderly, not fulfill suicide fantasies.
Death with dignity is a tough issue for many of us. Although I have co-sponsored the bill before the Legislature, I didn’t always support the concept. When I started to think about it as a matter of individual choice, I realized what a personal and intimate decision it was.