For governor, right-to-die question a difficult one

Hartford — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Tuesday that he has not decided whether he supports a "right-to-die" bill for Connecticut, but that if his dying mother had decided to take her own life, he probably would have supported her decision.

"She did not end her own life, but I suppose if she had decided to, as a son, I probably would have supported her decision," Malloy said during a press conference Tuesday. She died in hospice care, he said.

Malloy said he has been reading and reflecting on the right-to-die statutes in other states, but that it is difficult question.

"It's an issue that is fraught with fears, (and) represents taboos both religious and societal," Malloy said. "It also raises very substantial questions about the ability of one to control their own destiny."

The bill, co-sponsored by state Rep. Betsy Ritter, D-Waterford, would allow a physician to prescribe medication to end a patient's life if the patient requested the prescription and could self-administer the medication. Last week, members of the public testified passionately in favor of and against the bill.

The bill specifies that in order to be eligible, the patient would have to be considered competent or of sound mind and would have to be suffering from an incurable and irreversible medical condition that would result in death within six months, according to the patient's attending physician.

Those who support the bill said they would like to have the option to die in a dignified manner, while those against the bill said it would be dangerous for people with disabilities.

People with disabilities are already encouraged to refuse treatment and choose "do not resuscitate," said John Kelly, director of a Massachusetts-based organization, Second Thoughts. "Adding this bill is like adding gasoline to the fire," he said in his testimony.

Ritter said she and other legislators have been discussing ways to incorporate the public's feedback into the bill. The next Public Health Committee meeting is scheduled for Monday, according to the General Assembly's website.

j.somers@theday.com

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