Public Health Committee Attacks the Public's Health (Again)
It is a shocking lack of respect for Connecticut’s disabled community. Don’t take our word for it. They say so themselves.
Here in full is an email the leaders of Second Thoughts Connecticut, a disability rights organization, sent to the Public Health Committee when they learned their lives would again be threatened by a fourth public hearing on a bill legalizing assisted assisted suicide:
OUR E-MAIL TO ALL MEMBERS OF THE CONNECTICUT PUBLIC HEALTH COMMITTEE OPPOSING ASSISTED SUICIDE HB 5417 AND CALLING ON THE COMMITTEE TO WITHDRAW THE BILL:
Dear Members of the Public Health Committee,
With all due respect, and on behalf of our members at Second Thoughts Connecticut, we are writing to express our outrage that yet another bill to legalize assisted suicide is being raised this year.
Similar bills were raised in 2013, 2014, and 2015. Each one resulted in a grueling 12-15 hour hearing, putting great stress on legislators, the public, and especially on disabled people like ourselves, many of whom find it hard to travel and stay out for hours at a time.
Not only were these bills pulled each year before the JF deadline, but each time they were pulled earlier in the process, indicating that whatever support the concept may have had in 2013 had eroded.
This is not surprising. Initially, people often think that assisting someone to die is the compassionate course. Once they read the bill, consider its implementation, and understand the discrimination it entails, support drops. They have second thoughts.
It’s bad enough to have to go through this ordeal all over again. We were shocked to see that HB 5417 (An Act Concerning End-Of-Life Care) is exactly identical to HB 7015, which was heard in 2015. The only things that have been changed are the title and the effective date. All of the testimony opposing the 2015 bill is still relevant. If there are no new ideas, and none of our previous concerns have been addressed, why would the outcome be any different?
Furthermore, this bill deals with life and death. It was not taken seriously enough to draft a new bill, or even remove the reference in Section 18 to the Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities, which no longer exists. How much thought was put into the impact this legislation would have on our well-being?
We urge you to withdraw HB 5417. There is nothing new here, and this concept has failed to pass a single committee in three consecutive years. In baseball, after you strike out three times, you sit down for a while.
Cathy Ludlum and Stephen Mendelsohn
Second Thoughts Connecticut