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Compassion & Choices Releases Compelling Reasons #12-15 in Campaign to “Pass Medical Aid in Dying NOW”

Betty Rollin, the Emmy Award-winning journalist, former correspondent for NBC News and author of the 1985 bestseller, Last Wish, detailing her mother’s pleas for help to die peacefully, describes the peaceful death she and her husband were able to help her mother have:

“We were able to help her, and watching her die was like watching someone you love go over a prison wall. She was so grateful to escape – and we were so grateful she made it,” Rollin said. “Mother eased out of life as we hoped she would, and more importantly, as she hoped she would – painlessly, gracefully, gratefully. And we were grateful that, at the end of her life, she had some peace.”

“Now, with her husband recently diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer, the courageous, iconic and indefatigable Betty Rollin gave lawmakers the 12th of 50 reasons to pass New York’s Medical Aid in Dying Act (A.2694/S.3947), which now has 57 legislative sponsors,” said Compassion & Choices Senior New York Campaign Director Corinne Carey. “Betty knows that while medical aid in dying will be used by very few New Yorkers, it will provide great comfort to many. That’s why the public overwhelmingly supports this compassionate legislation.”

“Every session day between now and June 2 – unless the Legislature passes the Medical Aid in Dying Act before then – we will release another compelling reason,” Carey said. “This week, in addition to Rollin, we heard from a doctor who had a dying patient shoot himself to end the suffering; “America’s Psychologist,” who has counselled and comforted countless dying New Yorkers; and a Unitarian Universalist minister who supports medical aid in dying because of his faith.”

*   The 12th Reason to support New York’s Medical Aid in Dying Act comes from New York City resident Betty Rollin, Emmy Award-winning journalist and best-selling author, who helped her mother die to end her pain and suffering. Talking about her and her husband, Betty said, “Our lives have been lucky and we are grateful. We may continue to be lucky and die in our sleep. But we’re not counting on that and should either of us get to a point where we want to die with a physician’s help, we can’t have that help. Nor can anyone else who happens to live in New York. We hope that will change. Now.” Betty says the Legislature should pass this bill so that no daughter’s obligation is to help her mother die. And then 40 years later, may face the same obligation to her husband.

*   The 13th Reason to support New York’s Medical Aid in Dying Act comes from Saratoga County resident Dr. David Pratt. Dr. Pratt, former Commissioner of Public Health Services for Schenectady County, had a patient who suffered so much at the end of his life that he took his own life with a museum-quality Remington shotgun. “As a physician who would have liked to give my patients the gift of peace at the end of their lives, my goal is to make the medical practice of aid in dying an open, accessible and legitimate option for terminally ill, mentally competent adults with less than six months to live. Dr. Pratt says the Legislature should pass this bill so that no one’s Thanksgiving dinner ends with a shotgun to the head in the barn out back because nothing else could provide relief.

*   The 14th Reason to support New York’s Medical Aid in Dying Act comes from Manhattan resident Dr. Jeff Gardere. Also known as “America’s Psychologist,” Dr. Jeff is a clinical psychologist, ordained minister, author and associate professor and course director of behavioral science at the Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine. Dr. Jeff says, “There are too many terminally ill, dying New Yorkers who are unnecessarily suffering at the end of life. There are too m nay New Yorkers who passed away advocating for passage of this law.” Dr. Jeff says the Legislature should pass this bill because those who are chronically subjected to health disparities deserve to learn about and have access to end-of-life options that can help them achieve peace, comfort, and dignity at the end of life.

*   The 15th Reason to support New York’s Medical Aid in Dying Act comes from Rochester resident Rev. Dr. Richard Gilbert, a retired Unitarian Universalist minister. Rev. Gilbert says, “I have spent many hours by the bedsides of the dying and marvel at their courage, but I find myself unable to answer those who tell me they wish to die rather than face prolonged and unnecessary suffering which serves no meaningful purpose. As people of faith, we affirm the right to live in dignity. It stands to reason that we also affirm the right to die with dignity.” Rev. Gilbert says the Legislature should pass this bill because sometimes the greatest reverence for life is to end human suffering.

New York’s Medical Aid in Dying Act (A.2694/S.3947) with 57 legislative sponsors, including the chairs of both the Assembly and Senate Health committees, is supported by: New York State Academy of Family Physicians, League of Women Voters of New York State, New York Civil Liberties Union, New York State Public Health Association, StateWide Senior Action Council, Gay Men’s Health Crisis, Harlem United, Latino Commission on AIDS, and Latinos for Healthcare Equity, among many others.

Click here to read the full stories behind Reasons 1-15.


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