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Marist Poll Shows Strong Support for Medical Aid in Dying in New York

Compassion & Choices says it’s time for lawmakers to pass medical aid in dying act

Compassion & Choices says a new Marist poll released today showing strong support for medical aid in dying as an option for terminally ill adults to peacefully end unbearable suffering reinforces the need for the Legislature to pass the Medical Aid in Dying Act (A.4321a/S.6471). The legislation continues to garner support among lawmakers and currently has 68 co-sponsors in the Assembly and Senate.

“The continued strong support by New Yorkers for medical aid in dying is not surprising,” said Compassion & Choices Senior New York Campaign Director Corinne Carey. “What is surprising is the lack of movement by the Legislature to authorize this compassionate end-of-life care option for New Yorkers. It’s time for New York lawmakers to pass the Medical Aid in Dying Act. There is no good reason that residents of neighboring states like Maine, New Jersey and Vermont have this peaceful dying option but New Yorkers don’t.”

The new Marist poll released today (see page 29) shows that New York registered voters support “legislation which would allow doctors to prescribe a drug dose to an adult who has been told they have less than six months to live so the patient can take their own life if they want to” by a 23-point margin (59% support vs. 36% oppose). The poll shows majority support across the state (NYC: 57%, downstate suburbs: 63%, and upstate: 56%), the political spectrum (Democrats: 60%, Republicans: 55%, independents: 68%) and among both whites (60%) and “non-whites” (55%).

Dr. Bob Milch

Robert Milch, MD, FACS, who passed away in June 2021 from cancer.

“Legislative inaction now is punitive, and time is not an ally of the patient,” said Robert Milch, MD, FACS, who co-founded Hospice & Palliative Care Buffalo in 1978, in a video posted shortly after he passed away in June from cancer. “We have all the data we need to reasonably bring aid and dying to fruition, certainly in New York State, where the polls have demonstrated overwhelming support from the lay public, a majority of physicians endorsing it. Legislators need not necessarily endorse it, but for goodness sake, don’t prohibit it. And by not acting on it, that’s exactly what you’re doing.”

The previous New York poll on the issue in 2019, by Siena College, showed 58 percent of registered voters in the state supported “legislation that would allow a doctor to prescribe lethal drugs that a terminally ill patient with demonstrated decision making capacity would take on their own in order to end their own life.”

“Too many New Yorkers continue to suffer unnecessarily at the end of their lives, with their loved ones watching helplessly, because they don’t have the option of medical aid in dying,” said Carey. “Compassion & Choices, along with advocates from every corner of the state, are going to demand that legislators finally fulfill the wishes of the majority of New Yorkers. Passing the Medical Aid in Dying Act must be a top priority for legislators when they reconvene in January.”


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