Connecticut’s Medical Aid ‘in Dying’

Connecticuts Medical Aid in Dying

Danielle Kanter, Prospect Staff Writer

For three years, Connecticut legislatures have proposed bills to enact ‘death with dignity’ legislation. It consists of laws that would allow patients with a terminal diagnosis of six months or less to end their own life. For the second year in a row, it was referred to the Judiciary committee and hasn’t moved since.

Over the course of three years, the Public Health committee has held public hearings for over 100 people with over 200 others submitting written testimony. The vast majority of those came out in support of the legislation, sharing tragic stories, with the committee, of loved ones who suffered until the end because of terminal disease. For two years, the public health committee has listened to this, followed the will of their constituents, and voted it out.

If this bill had continued to the floors of the House and Senate, and passed, Connecticut’s legislation would be the same as Oregon, Washington, Vermont, California, Colorado, Hawaii, New Jersey, Maine, Montana, and New Mexico, as well as the District of Columbia. 

But it has not gone to the floor. Instead, it has gone into the Judiciary committee. It is a public health bill, meaning that it originates, has a public hearing, and is primarily worked on by those in the public health committee. So why does the Judiciary committee have a role in this? ‘Death with dignity’ is about a patient’s autonomy over their suffering by legally ending their own life, but it is referred to the Judiciary so doctors can be held accountable for malpractice, and to guarantee there is language within the bills that would safely regulate the medicine. 

The judiciary committee played a procedural shenanigan with the Senate last year. This year, the committee did not even vote for it to advance to the floor of the house. Those in the Judiciary claimed that the vote was not called because the majority needed in the committee to advance the bill did not exist.

What is the future of medical aid in dying in Connecticut? Proposing this same legislation next year without changes in committee membership would cause it to suffer the same fate it has for the last three years. It remains unclear how Connecticut will proceed with this legislation with their current lawmakers.