HARTFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP) – A physician-assisted suicide bill in Connecticut is up for its first legislative hearing before the General Assembly’s Public Health Committee.

As WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau reported, people who want the assisted suicide law in Connecticut are calling their lawmakers to urge its passage.

Democratic State Sen. Ed Meyer of Guilford has gotten so many calls that he authored the bill which he regards as cautious and compassionate.

“The bill that we’re hearing today, for example, requires two different physicians to certify under oath that the person is terminally ill, likely to die within six months and is mentally competent to make an informed decision about ending his or her life,” Meyer told Schneidau.

The bill is modeled after assisted suicide measures already on the books in three other states – Oregon, Washington and Montana – Meyer said.

“If the legislators see the bill as providing a choice, an intelligent choice for people making an informed decision to end their life and end the misery and pain they’re going through at the end of life, I think the bill will go forward,” Meyer told Schneidau.

But Meyer noted that any strong opposition to the bill could force it to be shelved until perhaps next year.

The socially conservative Family Institute of Connecticut and Second Thoughts Connecticut, a grassroots organization representing people with disabilities, are opposing the bill. They argue that lawmakers should instead consider increased access to hospice care, adequate staffing in nursing homes and required training in pain management.

Advocates said it marks the first time such legislation has been brought to a public hearing in Connecticut.

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