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Crain’s Health Pulse New York: Advocates push to advance New York’s aid-in-dying bill

An excerpt from Crain’s Health Pulse New York’s article, “Growing support across NYS for Medical Aid in Dying Act,” published Feb. 24, 2020:


New Jersey and Maine last year became the latest states to pass aid-in-dying legislation, joining seven other states and the District of Columbia. New York, however, has not passed its own bill, which originated in 2016.

This year advocates are making their biggest push yet and say they are optimistic that the current legislative session will be the one that brings New York’s Medical Aid in Dying Act to the floor. The legislation would provide terminally ill adults the option to obtain prescription medication to die peacefully.

To put New York’s situation in perspective, Hawaii’s legislation was considered for more than a decade before it passed in 2015, and New Jersey’s bill took seven years to succeed, said Corinne Carey, senior campaign director for New York and New Jersey for Compassion & Choices, an advocacy group.

The other states that have passed such legislation are California, Colorado, Montana, Oregon, Vermont and Washington.

“It’s hard to talk about death and dying,” Carey said, adding, “We’ve launched the most aggressive campaign ever this year.”

New York’s legislation has collected 57 co-sponsors. But there is still more understanding needed among lawmakers, physicians and the public, Carey said.

Compassion & Choices recently launched a digital campaign to share with lawmakers 50 reasons why they should support the bill for every day they’re in session.

Those reasons include stories of people whose loved ones used aid in dying in other states, as well as harrowing experiences of people whose loved ones committed suicide because they didn’t have options for a peaceful death, Carey said.

A survey conducted last year by WebMD and Medscape and released by Compassion & Choices showed that New York’s physicians supported medical aid in dying, 56% to 26%.

A recent Quinnipiac University poll showed that New York voters support medical aid in dying, 63% to 29%.

The New York Academy of Family Physicians, which originally opposed medical aid in dying, has moved to strongly support it.

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