Senators on the Connecticut General Assembly’s Judiciary Committee defeated legislation this week that would have permitted terminally ill adults to obtain substances to hasten their deaths. 

Typically, members of both chambers vote in Connecticut’s legislative committees. Regarding the assisted suicide bill, State Representative Craig Fishbein (R-Wallingford) moved to split the committee to take a vote from delegations from each chamber. When the committee’s nine senators voted, one Democrat, Mae Flexer (D-Windham) sided with the panel’s four Republicans, killing the bill, which had previously passed the Public Health Committee. 

In a web post yesterday, Leslie Wolfgang of the Family Institute of Connecticut praised the legislators who worked to stop the measure. 

“Legislators saw through this camel-nose-under-the-tent attempt to pass assisted suicide in our state and the bill failed in the most spectacular way that any assisted-suicide bill has ever failed in Connecticut [italics in original],” Wolfgang wrote. “Traditionally, assisted suicide has been quietly withdrawn by the well-funded, out-of-state organization that pushes it each year when looks like it will fail—to save face. This year however, an actual vote was taken in the Judiciary Committee and the advocates of assisted suicide lost. This is great news for Connecticut and we appreciate all of our allies and members and legislators who worked hard and smart to defeat this bill.”

State Senator John Kissel (R-Enfield), a member of the committee who voted against the legislation, called the bill “horrible” and said the correct policy focus should be an improvement of healthcare quality. 

Tim Appleton, campaign director of the pro-assisted suicide nonprofit Compassion & Choices Connecticut, lamented both the bill’s demise and the procedural tactic used to defeat it. 

“It says a lot about support for medical aid in dying both inside and outside the Capitol that opponents had to resort to a rarely-used parliamentary maneuver to defeat the legislation [not allowing House committee members to vote after Senate committee members voted 5-4 not to pass the bill],” Appleton said in a statement. “While medical aid in dying has advanced further this year than ever before, today’s vote will mean immeasurable suffering for terminally ill people who shared their stories with lawmakers, and for whom another legislative session will come too late.”

This week’s vote was the tenth time attempts to legalize assisted suicide have failed in Connecticut. Opponents especially objected to the language in this last bill, which would have required the cause of death to be recorded as “natural,” rather than as a homicide or a suicide. 

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Bradley Vasoli is managing editor of The Connecticut Star. Follow Brad on Twitter at @BVasoli. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo ” Craig Fishbein” by Ccfishbein. CC BY-SA 4.0. Photo “Mae Flexer” by Mae Flexer.