State Rep. Ritter announces support for right-to-die bill

State Rep. Betsy Ritter, D-Waterford, today announced her support for a right-to-die bill that will be considered by the Public Health Committee this session.

She was joined at a news conference with other legislators, clergy members, doctors and other advocates of the measure that would allow terminally ill, mentally competent patients the option of choosing life-ending medication.

“Patients should be able to make their own decisions about the final minutes of their lives. It’s their right and no one else’s,” Ritter said in a news release.

Barbara Coombs Lee, president of the advocacy group Compassion & Choices, said aid-in-dying laws in Oregon, Washington and now Montana are working as intended and none of the problems opponents predicted have come true.

According to the news release, only 673 people in Oregon have opted to take the life-ending medication done so in 15 years since the law’s passage. But thousands more take comfort just in knowing the option is available, according to Coombs Lee, who noted that end-of-life care has improved under the Oregon law.

The Connecticut bill would be based on Oregon and Washington state statutes, and would allow a terminally ill person with a diagnosis of less than six months to live, who is deemed mentally and psychologically competent, to get a prescription that can be self-administered for a humane and dignified death, supporters said.

The legislation would include protections to ensure that patients are not coerced or influenced in their decision-making.

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