HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Connecticut lawmakers are, once again, considering legislation that would allow terminally ill, mentally competent patients the right to choose medical aid in dying.
“My mother, very much, wanted to live. [But] this is not about ending life, it’s about ending suffering,” said Jennifer Barahona, who supports the bill.
Barahona was one of many who testified Monday before Connecticut’s Public Health Committee.
She said her mother, Barbara, died in 2009 from ALS and struggled in her last 18 days without a feeding tube, being unable to speak or even blink.
“It was a horrific two-and-a-half weeks of watching her rive in pain, her limbs turning black, her eyes pleading without any ability to know what she wanted to do,” Barahona said.
Now the Fairfield resident is fighting for others to have a choice.
“People don’t have to take advantage of this if they don’t choose to. That’s fine. Everyone has their own belief systems; but why would we deny someone that choice?” Barahona said.
“I certainly feel tremendous compassion for those folks,” said Nancy Alisberg with Progressives Against Medical Assisted Suicide.
She said the group wants to see better treatment and improve care.
“We want to ensure that people have a life with dignity, not a death with dignity. We also believe that suicide is not a treatment,” Alisberg said.
She’s concerned that the elderly and people with disabilities would be encouraged to choose the aid in dying so they wouldn’t feel like a burden.
“People are going to say, ‘You don’t want to live in a wheelchair, do you? You don’t want to live in diapers, do you?” Alisberg said.
The policy has been introduced as a bill more than a dozen times since 1995. It survived the Connecticut General Assembly’s Public Health Committee last year but fell in the judiciary committee.