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Supporters, Opponents Galvanize Around Bill Allowing Terminally Ill to End Their Lives

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Tim Samoff
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Creative Commons

For the third year in a row, a proposal to allow the terminally ill to receive medication to end their lives will be before Connecticut legislators.

One of the main opponents has already launched a campaign against the bill. 

Supporters call it aid-in-dying. Opponents say it's suicide.

To illustrate that point, the Connecticut Catholic Public Affairs Conference created the website DontJump.Org. The home page has video clips of people including Cathy Ludlum of Manchester, a woman with a disability, who explains why she's opposed to it. In the video, Ludlum said the public and medical staff confuse people with disabilities with those who have terminal conditions. "Physician-assisted suicide will create pressure on people not to burden their families, not to burden society with the cost," she said.

Compassion and Choices, the national group that advocates for aid-in-dying laws similar to Oregon's, disagrees that this bill would encourage people with disabilities to give up.

The Connecticut legislation calls for allowing terminally ill patients who are mentally competent to get a prescription from his or her doctor, medication that the patient takes on his or her own.

Tim Appleton, who manages the Connecticut campaign for Compassion and Choices, said, "We feel this ad campaign is in response to growing momentum this issue has achieved over last two years. Aid-in-dying in Connecticut is supported by a two-to-one majority of people in our state no matter how old they are, their gender, or religious preference."

Quinnipiac University polled state residents on this issue last year.

WNPR was unable to reach the Catholic Conference by deadline. But on the DontJump website, it tells supporters to sign a petition urging the judiciary committee to oppose the bill. The Archdiocese of Hartford also has a link to the website on its home page and includes audio from a radio ad.

Previous legislation failed to come up for committee votes in the 2012 and 2013 legislative sessions.

Lucy leads Connecticut Public's strategies to deeply connect and build collaborations with community-focused organizations across the state.

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