Hugh McQuaid photo

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Tuesday he remains undecided on legislation allowing terminally ill patients in Connecticut to end their lives. However, on a personal level, he seemed sympathetic to the concept.

“My own mother died while being cared for in hospice. She did not end her own life but I suppose if she had decided to, as a son, I probably would have supported her decision,” he said, responding to a question at a press briefing.

For the first time this year, the Public Health Committee held a public hearing on a “right-to-die” or “assisted suicide” bill. Under the legislation, terminally ill patients with a diagnosis of less than six months to live would be permitted to take a dose of medication to end their own life.

Connecticut’s legislation is fashioned after similar laws in Oregon and Washington, which require the patient to be deemed mentally and psychologically competent to self-administer the medication obtained by prescription from a doctor.

During the public hearing, proponents of the bill said it allows some people a humane and dignified way to end their lives. Critics and disability advocates expressed fears it would be used by the government as a way to take the lives of people who require large amounts of health care.

Malloy said it was a complicated debate.

“It’s an issue that’s fraught with fears, represents taboos both religious and societal. It also raises very substantial questions about the ability of one to control their own destiny,” he said.

The governor said he has read and reflected on related statutes in other states, but has yet to come to a conclusion.

“I’m just admitting it’s a very complex and difficult issue,” he said.

So far the Public Health Committee has not taken action on the controversial legislation. It has until April 5 to vote to move the bill along in the legislative process.