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Connecticut News

Connecticut Residents Testify During Medical Aid In Dying Bill Hearing

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More than 100 people testified Friday  during a hearing for a bill that would give terminally ill adults in Connecticut the option of medical aid in dying.

Kim Callinan heads Compassion & Choices, a nationwide group that advocates for patient rights. She said the COVID-19 pandemic has tested the limits of modern medicine to relieve end of life suffering.

“Connecticut is bordered by three neighbors — Maine, New Jersey and Vermont — who all have this option. A zip code should not dictate whether you die peacefully or painfully,” Callinan said.

Callinan spoke during a virtual rally before the marathon hearing with state lawmakers on the Public Health Committee.

State Representative Jonathan Steinberg chairs the committee. He said he wants to advance the bill to a full vote of the legislature this year. Connecticut has been debating the issue for a decade.

Psychologist Dr. Jeff Gardere, of Weston, said patients having the option to die on their own terms would allow families to have peace and comfort — even during the pandemic.

“Even though medical aid in dying may not have been helpful to many COVID patients because of the rapid progression of their symptoms, especially in the initial surges, the point is that many of these patients died in a hospital isolated from their loved ones,” Gardere said.

Also among the Connecticut residents who testified during the hearing wwas Tony-award winning actor and Weston resident James Naughton.

His wife Pam Parsons died from pancreatic cancer in 2014 after they commuted to San Antonio, Texas, every week for eight months to participate in a new clinical trial. Naughton said she suffered.

Aid-in-dying is legal in nine states and Washington, D.C.

The headline and first sentence has been ammended to reflect there was opposition to the bill.