'It is time for change.' Contentious Aid in Dying Bill advances
A key legislative committee advanced a controversial Aid in Dying Bill Friday afternoon. But the legislation still faces an uphill battle at the State Capitol.
The Public Health Committee vote came largely on party lines, with all but one Democrat voting yes. Three Republicans also voted to advance the bill.
The issue is so contentious that people cannot even agree on what to call it - aid in dying or doctor-assisted suicide.
Mike Mizzone of Orange lobbied for the bill for years before dying of Lou Gehrig's disease in 2019. Last week, his wife Jennifer urged lawmakers to act.
"When my 7-year-old has to watch his father, Mike Mizzone, deteriorate before his eyes and then at the age of 11, bury his father, it is time for change," she said.
Opponents say patients could be pressured to die.
"There are too many loopholes that are still available and opportunities for abuses, and we've seen in those abuses in other countries," said state Sen. Heather Somers (R-Groton).
But the bill has major protections. A patient must make two different requests in writing and those requests must be made at least 15 days apart. Each request must have two witnesses and they cannot be a close relative or a doctor.
"This bill is somewhat more restrictive than the bills that are in the other states," said state Sen. Saud Anwar (D-South Windsor).
Ten states and Washington D.C. already allow doctor-assisted deaths. Gov. Ned Lamont says if the bill makes it to his desk, he'll probably sign it.
"I think we'll have to see what comes out of the Legislature, but I believe in not getting between a patient and their doctor," said Lamont.
This bill still faces long odds. Next it could head to another committee - the Judiciary Committee, where it never even got a vote last year.