Tom Williams/Roll Call/Getty Images
Tom Williams/Roll Call/Getty Images

CT Mirror has a piece today about Sen. Blumenthal’s leadership role on the Clay Hunt veteran suicide prevention bill; the U.S. Senate is expected to vote on this legislation today.

I have, of course, very publicly locked horns with Sen. Blumenthal. There are not too many occasions when we find ourselves on the same side of a major issue. While I am not in a position to comment on the substance of Tom Coburn’s (R-OK) objections to the bill — which held it up until now — I can at least say that I find the principle utterly uncontroversial. Nobody deserves the allegedly substandard care that Clay Hunt received, described in the Mirror’s article.

I wonder if Sen. Blumenthal expected his work at the national level to be undermined by, of all entities, the Connecticut General Assembly. Less than two weeks ago the anticipated assisted suicide bill was referred to the Judiciary Committee. How our legislators resolve this massive case of cognitive dissonance, I can only speculate.

There’s no question that people with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder can experience intense suffering.  There are degrees, but the classic symptom that comes to mind is having terrifyingly realistic flashbacks. Another striking symptom is “feeling like you have no future.”

It is entirely appropriate to insist on the highest standards for those who were willing to sacrifice everything protecting us. However, I do not think it demeans their service to also insist that (for example) a cancer patient, elderly person with Alzheimer’s, or person with Spinal Muscular Atrophy is not less worthy or unequal in dignity. The state should not be giving one class of people suicide prevention while another gets suicide assistance.

S.B. 668 was hardly out of the gate before an editorial in the Hartford Courant began sounding the drumbeat for “a little pill” to take a pre-emptive strike at Alzheimer’s and dementia — for still-healthy individuals who also feel like they have no future. Last year, some legislators seemed particularly skeptical that a law ostensibly written for the psychologically competent and imminently dying would ever change, but this came as no surprise to FIC and our allies: assisted suicide promoters are actually quite frank about it when asked, such as when C&C’s president called assisted suicide for the mentally compromised “an issue for another day but no less compelling,” or when a supporter called New Jersey’s proposed bill “the first rung in a ladder to the autonomy that people should have.”

The General Assembly would do well to consider the message our state would be sending in two directions…

– To veterans: “Your suffering is less real.”

– To the sick, elderly, and disabled: “Your life is less valued.”

We simply can’t have it both ways.

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