Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Defeat of Connecticut assisted suicide bill linked to strong disability advocacy.

This article was published by the disability rights group, Not Dead Yet on March 26, 2018.

Cathy Ludlum: Second Thoughts Connecticut.
Great news: The Connecticut assisted suicide bill died in committee. This follows a similar victory in Massachusetts. Thanks to everyone who effectively communicated the very real dangers that a public policy legalizing assisted suicide poses to older, ill and disabled people!

On March 20, Second Thoughts Connecticut members held a press conference and testified against an assisted suicide bill, HB 5417 at a joint Public Health Committee hearing. Channel 8 covered their testimony: ‘Aid in dying’ bill back before lawmakers. They also interviewed Cathy Ludlum and Elaine Kolb. NDY also submitted written testimony.

Although the major print media ignored the outspoken opposition of the disability community, despite their consistent presence and activism against these bills as they were considered the last few years, one very powerful letter to the editor by Second Thoughts member Joan Cavanagh was carried by the New Haven Register:

Physician-assisted suicide harms the poor, elderly and disabled
Once again, a bill in Connecticut legalizing physician-assisted suicide was the subject of discussion at a public hearing on Tuesday, March 20. This year, it is HB 5417, with the Orwellian name, “An Act Concerning End-of-Life Care.” The well-funded “Compassion and Choices” and Secular Coalition of Connecticut promoters of this bill are trying to rally all “liberals” behind it under the false banner of “choice,” claiming that its only opponents are the extreme religious right and the institutional Catholic Church. As always, they deliberately refuse to acknowledge the disability rights community activists, Second Thoughts Connecticut, and the peace and justice activists who have opposed these bills for years.

Second Thoughts Connecticut has led the opposition. They don’t just “represent” people whose lives are at risk because their health care is “too expensive.” They are those people. Articulate, determined, and resourceful, they have mobilized year after year to protect their own lives and right to choose. They have also given me courage, aNnd so, from my personal experience in trying to get my elderly mother, a Medicaid patient with dementia, the care she needed to stay alive, I have written, spoken, and testified against this legislation since 2013. (The New Haven Register published my Forum piece about this (https://www.nhregister.com/opinion/article/Forum-Aid-in-dying-bill-neither-11375068.php), March 14, 2014.

We continue to clearly see these bills for what they are: another piece of the medical cost-cutting agenda that seeks to “ration” health care for the most vulnerable among us — the poor, elderly and disabled. As a life-long activist for peace and justice, it is beyond my understanding how anyone claiming human rights concerns could continue to advocate for this kind of legislation in the era of alt-right power, where the highest officials in our nation are slashing with impunity the most basic of our hard won, already inadequate, safety nets.

Joan Cavanagh
New Haven

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