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Supporters Release Six-Word Videos Calling for Passage of CT Medical Aid-in-Dying Legislation

Project Updates 2014 Six-Word Portrait Project

Supporters of a bill that would allow terminally ill, mentally capable patients to have the option of medical aid in dying to gently end unbearable suffering today released the first in a series of six-word videos on social media, sharing their reasons for backing the legislation. The medical aid-in-dying bill (HB 6425) is now on the calendar of the state House of Representatives after the Public Health Committee approved it last month in a bipartisan 24-9 vote.

Two or three videos will be posted every weekday through April on https://www.facebook.com/CompassionandChoicesConnecticut and on Twitter at @CompandChoices.

The videos, recorded by bill supporters and released by Compassion & Choices, a national organization that advocates for expanding and improving end-of-life care options, update a similar portrait project that was hung in the walkway between the state Capitol Building and the Legislative Office Building in 2014. That installation, which featured six-word quotes from medical professionals, terminally ill patients, family members, and clergy, drew statewide media attention when opponents demanded its removal and legislative leadership later re-installed it.

The most recent supporters appear on video from their homes, some holding photos of loved ones, others talking about their own desire for the end-of-life care option of medical aid in dying. All speak with heartfelt emotion of their personal or loved one’s experience suffering from an agonizing terminal disease. Many have brought their pleas for passage of the legislation to lawmakers more than once.

“My journey with death is personal,” says Kim Hoffman, of Glastonbury, who is living with terminal cancer and testified at length before the Public Health Committee about the bill in March.

“My father should have had options,” says Max Fey, holding a photo of his father Mark Fey who served on the Farmington Historic District Commission and died in 2012 of pancreatic cancer. Fey began advocating for medical aid in dying as a college sophomore in 2014.

Jennifer Barahona, who has testified and written publicly about her mother’s difficult death from ALS, says, “We all deserve a peaceful transition.”

Each of the videos ends by urging viewers to ask their legislators to support HB6425.

ALS patient Mike Mizzone testifying at 2018 CT hearing in support of medical aid-in-dying bill.

In addition to Hoffman, Fey and Barahona, the 50 videos will also include contributions from Golden Globe winning actress Jill Eikenberry and her husband, Emmy and Golden Globe nominee Michael Tucker, both residents of Easton; Jennifer Mizzone of Orange, whose husband Michael testified in support of the legislation in 2018 before dying of ALS; Dan Diaz of California, who moved to Oregon in 2015 with his wife Brittany after she was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor, so she could utilize its medical aid-in-dying law; and Tony Award winning actor Jim Naughton of Weston.

At least five of the 30 people featured in the 2014 portrait project have since died from their terminal illnesses without the benefit of the end-of-life option of medical aid in dying that they desperately sought.

Similar bills have been introduced 14 times in Connecticut over the last 27 years since 1994, but never made it out of committee. The proposed legislation would allow people with a terminal illness to request a prescription for medical aid in dying  from doctors, within more than a dozen very specific eligibility and safety requirements to obtain medication to peacefully end their suffering if it becomes intolerable.

By a 2-1 margin (63% vs. 31%), Connecticut voters support medical aid in dying, including a majority of Republicans, Democrats, independents, men, women, and age groups, according to a 2015 Quinnipiac University poll, the most recent poll on the issue in Connecticut.


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