Assisted suicide debate moves south, to Connecticut

After being rebuffed in Massachusetts, the assisted suicide lobby has turned its eyes to the neighbouring state of Connecticut. At a press conference in Hartford on Tuesday night, several pro-euthanasia advocates called for law reform in the state, arguing that assisted suicide is a way of “honouring the patients” who are suffering and want to end their life.

Connecticut senator Betsy Ritter called for “a more patient-centred discussion, a discussion with a focus on honouring the patients.” Barbara Coombs Lee, president of Compassion and Choices, said that “the writing of a prescription is a palliative care modality, relieving anxiety, relieving people of fear of the circumstances of their death”. Legislators used the conference to announce that a public hearing will be held into euthanasia issues, likely by the end of the month.

Peter Wolfgang, executive director of the Family Institute, has criticised the press conference: ‘‘this is mostly an out-of-state organization that has targeted the state of Connecticut. They look at the Northeast and think this is low-hanging fruit”.

There has also been movement on euthanasia bills in the neighbouring of Vermont and New Jersey. In Vermont a bill to legalize assisted suicide was last week approved by the state Senate Committee. And in New Jersey on Tuesday John Burzichelli's Death with Dignity bill was read to the state Health and Services Committee

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