Saud Anwar

State Senator

Saud Anwar

Deputy President Pro Tempore

Working For You

January 18, 2023


Today, State Senator Saud Anwar (D-South Windsor) joined advocates and supporters of medical aid-in-dying, policy that would allow diagnosed terminally ill patients to live to voluntarily request medical assistance to end their lives, as they stood at the Capitol, calling for change in honor of their loved ones who died painfully from illness when they did not receive access to aid-in-dying. Those gathered revealed portraits of their loved ones, which were then hung in the walkway connecting the Legislative Office Building and State Capitol building.

As Senate Chair of the Public Health Committee, Sen. Anwar spoke regarding the legislation and its hopeful passage in the 2023 legislative session. Medical aid-in-dying is legal in ten states and the District of Columbia. The policy has been introduced as a bill in Connecticut more than a dozen times dating back to 1995, but staunch opposition has prevented its passage.

“As a physician who’s committed to health for the long lives and well-being of all patients, I recognize various illnesses require people to make difficult and unnecessary end-of-life journeys,” said Sen. Anwar. “There has been real evolution in my thinking about this issue. If you asked me about five years ago, as a physician, I’d say I was hard-wired to try to protect life and do whatever is possible to save and prolong life. But I recognize that, as an individual, you are not in control, and when you realize suffering cannot be managed by the best possible teams available, you have a responsibility at that time to give those people an option. We need to make sure our citizens who find themselves in impossible circumstances have options and we have no right to restrict those options from people. Advocates have worked tirelessly to find the right balance between patient access and safeguards to craft a bill that will work as intended for those for whom it is intended.”

“We do not see the same individuals testify on this issue year after year,” Sen. Anwar continued. “Many of them are on their death beds when they come and speak. They know their testimony will be their last opportunity to speak. And we know, as they are suffering, their suffering will not end, but they hope the suffering of others will be better. That gesture of kindness is so moving and should be a point of reflection to recognize the respect, pain and suffering involved to make sure we help others.”

“We’re here this morning to unveil a series of portraits of advocates who have died waiting for this legislation, an option that provides terminally ill people who are mentally capable, working alongside their physician, loved ones and a faith leader if they have one, the ability to bypass the worst part of an active dying process,” said Tim Appleton, senior campaign director for the Compassion and Choices Action Network. “In Connecticut, similar aid in dying legislation has been introduced 15 separate times dating back to 1994. During that time, aid in dying is now authorized in 10 states and Washington D.C. and 20% of Americans have access to it. In Oregon, where the first aid-in-dying law was passed, there has not been a single instance of abuse, misuse or coercion attributed to that law. Finally, the very real legislative cost of inaction is paid for by the suffering of those seeking this option. For far too many, this session and next session will be too late. Another group of people will die waiting. These portraits spell out the cost of inaction.”

Advocates on Wednesday included Jill Hammerberg, whose husband Mark died of prostate cancer; Kira Philips, whose mother Clare took her own life after fighting multiple myeloma; Jennifer Barahona, whose mother Barbara died from ALS; and Jim Naughton, whose wife Pam died from pancreatic cancer. All stood with portraits of their loved ones and shared painful, traumatizing stories of watching their loved ones spend their final days in agony, wishing they could have controlled the ends of their lives on their own terms, rather than allow their terminal illnesses to define their deaths.

On Wednesday at noon, the Public Health Committee held a committee meeting considering medical aid-in-dying as a raised concept.