Statements from Corinne Carey and Jules Netherland on Their Arrest and the Arrest of Other Advocates Calling on Speaker Heastie & Leader Stewart-Cousins To Allow a Vote on the Medical Aid in Dying Act

List of Those Arrested Included at End of Statements
May 21, 2024

Corinne Carey, Compassion & Choices’ Senior Campaign Director for NY/NJ, and terminally ill Bronx resident Jules Netherland, issued the following statements in conjunction with their arrest Tuesday for civil disobedience (official charge is anticipated to be disorderly conduct) – and the arrest of nine other advocates in support of New York’s Medical Aid in Dying Act. (The names of the other arrestees are below Corinne’s and Jules’ statements.)

Corinne Carey said:

“As campaign director for the last decade and a lawyer who prides herself on not getting arrested – other than that one time in the U.S. Senate gallery protesting so-called welfare reforms in 1996 – this is the last thing I wanted to do. But the lack of movement on the bill so far has sadly left us no other choice. 

“I hoped it wouldn’t come to this point. I hoped the Legislature would recognize – in our 10th session advocating for medical aid in dying – that this compassionate end-of-life care option has overwhelming support from the voting public and from the vast majority of doctors, including their two most important associations – the Medical Society of the State of New York and New York State Academy of Family Physicians. That the votes are there in each house. That they have the power to provide this option for dying New Yorkers to peacefully end unbearable suffering. 

“Did they listen to Dr. Jeremy Boal when he was in Albany last week? Dr. Boal, the former EVP and Chief Clinical Officer of the Mount Sinai Health System, gave up his position late last year, shortly after learning of his ALS diagnosis. He has treated hundreds of dying patients – many of whom wanted this option, like he, himself, may want when his incurable and irreversible disease progresses to a point where his suffering becomes intolerable. 

“Dr. Boal is just the latest in a long line of dozens of terminally ill advocates and family members to whom the leaders have turned a deaf ear. Far too many of them have died, suffering, wanting this option, advocating in their final days in some cases.

“We are confident that the votes are there to pass this bill. Legislative leaders may disagree. But dying people have no time for politics. Let the bill move forward for a vote, even if it fails. At least voters will know where their elected officials stand when they go to the polls in November, as opposed to the legislative purgatory they have placed them in.

“Speaker Heastie, you call the Assembly chamber the ‘people’s house.’ We are asking you today to listen to the people, the voters of this state, and let this bill advance to the floor for public debate.

“Leader Stewart-Cousins: Dying people have no time for politics. Let the bill move forward. 

“I know this issue makes some lawmakers uncomfortable. I get it. But they won’t be any less uncomfortable next year or the year after. The only thing that will change is that more dying New Yorkers will have spent their last days suffering. It’s hard to believe that idea doesn’t make them uncomfortable. 

“Speaker Heastie, Leader Stewart-Cousins, on behalf of 72% of New Yorkers who support this end-of-life care option, I beg you to do the right thing. Show New Yorkers your love and grace. Let the Medical Aid in Dying Act come to the floor for a vote.”

Group of protestors outside of NY State House holding a banner saying "Death is Inevitable. Suffering Doesn't Have to Be."

Jules Netherland, Bronx, said:

“I want lawmakers to understand that I have stage 4 breast cancer. I am undergoing treatments but they take a toll on me. I have crushing fatigue, brain fog, and gastrointestinal problems. I’m immune compromised. And yet, I came to Albany today and faced arrest – a first in my decades of activism – because this cannot wait. I cannot wait. 

“I want Speaker Heastie, Leader Stewart-Cousins and the other 200-plus legislators to understand that I don’t have another nine-and-a-half years to wait. I am a fighter but I’m realistic and I know the odds of me living that long are slim. 

I want the option of medical aid in dying because I do not want to spend the last days and weeks of my life suffering.

“I want this option because I – like others with terminal illnesses – do not want to spend whatever time I have left on this planet trying to move politicians. I’ve done that enough already.   

“Help me and people like me. Please.

“Pass the bill and pass it now. Then I can truly live my fullest life possible – for as long as I have – knowing that I can look forward to a peaceful death surrounded by those I love.”

In addition to Corinne Carey and Jules Netherland, those arrested today include:

Marian Bigelow, Saratoga Springs

Jay Federman, MD, Saranac Lake

Winston Hagborg, West Sand Lake

Karin Johnson, Rockville Centre

Nancy Murphy, Vermontville

Catherine O’Callaghan, Staten Island

John Picarello, Brooklyn

Barb Thomas, Schuylerville

Lindsay Wright, Manhattan

The Medical Aid in Dying Act is supported by more than 50 statewide advocacy groups, including: 

1 in 9 LI Breast Cancer Action Coalition 

ACT UP NY

ALS United Greater New York

Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester

Catholic Vote Common Good

Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC)

Harlem United

Indivisible Westchester

Latino Commission on AIDS

Latinos for Healthcare Equity

League of Women Voters of NYS

Medical Society of State of NY (MSSNY)

New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU)

NYS Academy of Family Physicians

NYS Bar Association

NYS Public Health Association NOW-NY

Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts

SAGE NY (Services for LGBT elders)

StateWide Senior Action Council

Westchester Coalition for Legal Abortion

WESPAC Foundation

Women’s Bar Assn. of NYS

 

More information on medical aid in dying and the New York campaign can be found on Compassion & Choices’ website, Facebook or Twitter.

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Contact:  Steven Greenberg, (518) 469-9858, [email protected]

Compassion & Choices
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VICTORY: Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed the improved End-of-Life Options Act.

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