The latest from Compassion & Choices

Thousands of New Yorkers Sign Petition Urging Governor Hochul to Support Medical Aid in Dying Act

Advocates Present Petitions to Governor’s Office, Share Personal Stories of Why They’re Strong Supporters to Stop Needless Suffering

Compassion & Choices New York today presented Governor Kathy Hochul with petition signatures from more than 4,000 New Yorkers in support of New York’s Medical Aid in Dying Act (A.4321a/S.6471), sponsored by Senator Diane Savino (Staten Island) and Assemblymember Amy Paulin (Westchester).

The petition reads:

“I believe that New Yorkers should have the same comprehensive end-of-life care options that 1 in 5 people living in the United States now have, including our neighbors in New Jersey and Vermont. I support giving dying New Yorkers the option of medical aid in dying. This compassionate legislation would allow a terminally ill, mentally capable adult to request and receive a prescription medication they can take at a time they choose to avoid needless suffering and die peacefully in their sleep.”

“The pandemic has forced us to confront death and dying in ways we couldn’t have imagined. It has spurred discussions about life and death issues among family and friends,” said Corinne Carey, Compassion & Choices Senior New York Campaign Director. “We’ve sadly learned what a bad death often looks like: all alone, isolated from loved ones, in pain and suffering. But we also know what a gentle death looks like: being surrounded by loved ones, holding their hands, saying goodbye, passing in peace, free from pain.

Compassion & Choices staff and volunteer advocates deliver more than 4,000 petition signatures to the office of New York Governor Kathy Hochul.

“Medical aid in dying isn’t an issue for most people…until it is…when they or a family member become terminally ill. Right now, too many New Yorkers are facing a bad death. Family, friends, neighbors – being ravaged by breast, brain, other insidious cancers, heart disease, Parkinson’s, and ALS – face tremendous suffering that not even the advanced palliative care available in New York can relieve. Legislators have a chance to stop the suffering for their constituents and pass the Medical Aid in Dying Act,” Carey said.

Thad Mirer, Director, Death with Dignity – Albany, said, “We are all going to have an end to our lives, sometime. For those New Yorkers who are months, weeks, or days away from certain death – often suffering or in great pain – medical aid in dying offers an alternative. It’s a long-established, compassionate end-of-life healthcare option that can mean the difference between peace and suffering, both for the individual and for their loved ones. Some will choose that path, others will not. But all benefit from having the option. Legislators have a chance to stop suffering for many New Yorkers, without harming anyone. They should just pass the law.”

Dr. Mary Applegate of Delmar, with a long and distinguished public health career, described the death of a close friend with ALS. “As he steadily declined and was aware of the worse to come, he brought on his own death in the only way legally open to him in New York. He starved himself to death. It was awful for him and even more awful, I think, for his family. There is no reason people should have to die in pain and suffering. I urge Governor Hochul to make enacting the Medical Aid in Dying Act a priority in 2022.”

Barbara Thomas of Saratoga Springs told the heart-wrenching story about her husband, Bob, who died 10 years ago next week, after a horrendous struggle with brain cancer. “Bob was ready to die. To be clear, Bob was not suicidal. He wanted to live, but his cancer was ending his life. All he was asking for was help to end his suffering when he couldn’t take it anymore. We would lay in his bed and cry together. When Bob died, I vowed I didn’t want anyone else I love to suffer like that. And I don’t want to suffer that way either. I’m here today to tell lawmakers that now is the time. Stop the suffering and pass the Pass Medical Aid in Dying Act now.”

“The recent Marist poll continues to show that voters – Republicans, Democrats and independents, upstaters and downstaters, regardless of race or gender – strongly support medical aid in dying,” Carey said. “It’s important for lawmakers running for re-election this year to know that New Yorkers support the issue. But more importantly, they need to understand that this law will not result in more people dying in New York; it will only result in fewer people suffering unbearably at the end of their lives. Governor Hochul and the Legislature have the power to stop needless suffering.”

Carey said that copies of the petitions would also be presented to leaders of the four legislative conferences.

The legislation is supported by numerous advocacy groups in the state including, among others: New York Civil Liberties Union, League of Women Voters of New York State, StateWide Senior Action Council, NYS Public Health Association, Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts, NOW-NY, ACT UP NY, Harlem United, Latino Commission on AIDS, Latinos for Healthcare Equity, the WESPAC Foundation, and SAGE NY, which advocates for and provides healthcare and other services to LGBT elders.

Below (left) is a billboard that is currently located just off I-87 / NYS Thruway, heading northbound, just as traffic leaves New York City and enters Westchester County. During December, a similar billboard (below, right) was displayed in Buffalo.

An image of a woman standing and crying with her hand on the head of a person lying down with an oxygen tube in their nose. Text that says Stop Needless Suffering Pass Medical Aid in Dying, Paid for by Compassion and Choices. A Compassion & Choices New York logo.