Washington D.C., Mar 23, 2019 / 03:17 am
As multiple states consider assisted suicide legislation, disability activists are speaking out, saying the bills are slippery slopes that put the lives of people with disabilities at risk.
Connecticut lawmakers are now considering HB 5898, “An Act Concerning Aid In Dying For Terminally Ill Patients,” which would permit doctors to prescribe lethal medication to people with less than six months to live. The patient would be permitted to self-administer the medication when they wish to end their life.
HB 5898 is modeled after Oregon’s assisted suicide law, which was the first in the nation. On Monday, members of the state General Assembly’s Public Health Committee heard testimony from those who are in favor of the bill, and from those who are opposed.
Cathy Ludlum, one of the leaders of the group Second Thoughts Connecticut and a woman who lives with a disability, provided written testimony that was emailed to all members of the public health committee.
In the testimony, which was forwarded to CNA by Second Thoughts Connecticut, Ludlum explained that the language of the bill puts people with disabilities at risk.
“But the harsh reality is that (persons with disabilities) will be the collateral damage in any formalized death-by-choice system,” said Ludlum. “Many of us with severe and obvious disabilities are already too frequently thought of by medical practitioners as having reached a final stage, where death might be expected in the near future.”
Ludlum said the definitions in the bill mean that she herself would be defined as someone who is terminally ill, even though she is not.
That section defines a “terminal illness” as “final stage of an incurable and irreversible medical condition that an attending physician anticipates, within reasonable medical judgment, will produce a patient's death within six months.”