New York Legislature Urged to Pass Medical Aid in Dying Act After 2nd Northeast State Authorizes End-of-Life Care Option in Last Two Months

Group Says Terminally Ill NY Residents Deserve Same Option to Die Peacefully
June 14, 2019

Compassion & Choices’ New York campaign director Corinne Carey

(Albany – June 13, 2019) Compassion & Choices today urged New York lawmakers to pass medical aid-in-dying legislation after the signing of similar bills into law by two northeastern state governors in the last two months, Maine’s Janet Mills yesterday and New Jersey’s Phil Murphy on April 12.

Like the new Maine and New Jersey laws, New York’s Medical Aid in Dying Act would allow mentally capable, terminally ill adults with six months or less to live to have the option to request a doctor’s prescription for medication they can decide to take if their suffering becomes unbearable and die peacefully in their sleep.

“Terminally ill New Yorkers deserve to have the same option to peacefully end needless suffering that Maine and New Jersey residents will soon have,” said Kim Callinan, who was born in Queens and is CEO of Compassion & Choices. “I encourage New York lawmakers to pass this bill before the session ends; people who are dying don’t have the luxury of endless deliberations.”

“The recent deaths of medical aid-in-dying supporters like New York City filmmaker Barbara Hammer, Buffalo lawyer Bernadette Hoppe and former New York City chef Miguel Carrasquillo who suffered needlessly because they did not have this option, vividly demonstrate there is no more urgent issue for terminally ill New Yorkers than passing this bill,” said Corinne Carey, a longtime friend of both women who is Compassion & Choices’ New York campaign director with deep roots in the state — born in Brooklyn, schooled in Buffalo — and living in the Capital Region. “In honor of their memory, and since it is a certainty that many of our fellow New Yorkers will be facing similarly painful, terrifying end-of-life struggles, the Legislature should not end its session next week without passing the Medical Aid in Dying Act (A.2694/S.3947).”

New York State voters support medical aid in dying as an end-of-life care option by more than a 2-1 margin (63% vs. 29%), according to a 2018 Quinnipiac University Poll. Majority support for medical aid in dying included virtually every demographic group the survey measured, including party affiliation, race, religion, sex, region, education level, and age group.

New York doctors support medical aid in dying as an end-of-life care option by a 30 point margin (56% vs. 26), according to a 2018 WebMD/Medscape survey. In addition, the New York State Academy of Family Physicians has endorsed medical aid in dying.

Maine is now the 10th jurisdiction to allow medical aid in dying in 25 years and 6th to do it in the last five years (New Jersey in 2019, Hawai’i in 2018, Washington, D.C. in 2017, Colorado in 2016, California in 2015, Vermont in 2013, Montana in 2009, Washington in 2008, and Oregon in 1994). Nearly 70 million Americans live in these jurisdictions, more than one-fifth (22%) of the nation’s population.

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