Compassion & Choices NY Weekly Why: What About Faith? (March 21)

March 21, 2022

Distributed to New York State Lawmakers via email March 21 2022:

Good afternoon!

Today I’d like to talk to you about faith and religion. Did you know that the majority of people who identify themselves as adhering to a faith or religious group support giving terminally ill people the peaceful option of medical aid in dying? Poll after poll has shown this support, including survey done by Lifeway Research, a Christian research institute.

More recently, a November 2021 poll conducted by Susquehanna Polling & Research shows strong majorities of people of faith support giving people this compassionate option: 78% support among those who are Jewish, 67% Catholic, 67% Muslim, and 68% Protestant.

How can this be true when the press and opponents characterize this as a controversial issue, particularly among people of faith? 

It’s because New York’s Medical Aid in Dying Act (A4321aS6471) would allow all New Yorkers to have a death that is consistent with their own faith, their own values, and their own beliefs. This is equally true for people who oppose medical aid in dying and believe it goes against their faith traditions; and those who would like the option of medical aid in dying to prevent a prolonged death filled with needless suffering.

The fact is, if you pass this bill to authorize the option of medical aid in dying, you are respecting the right of all New Yorkers – not just opponents – to make their own end-of-life decisions. Only the dying person can ask for and self-ingest the medication; and for those who believe strongly that this is the wrong choice for a person to make, they would simply never ask for it.

Isn’t this the essence of freedom of religion? We allow everyone to live their lives in a way that is consistent with their faith and values. Shouldn’t we give them the freedom to make end-of-life decisions based on their faith and values? We should. And we should ensure that nobody gets to impose their faith and values on the end-of-life healthcare decisions anyone else is forced to make.

As an example, I can tell you about my father – incredibly strong, a devout Catholic, and a Marine – who believed that only God can say when life ends. While he suffered at the end of his life (mercifully, not for long), he never would have asked for medical aid in dying, believing that his suffering was redemptive. But that was his choice and he believed that everyone should be free to make their own decisions.

Consider this: There is no state law that forbids me from eating meat on Fridays during Lent. I refrain based on my faith, and I couldn’t conceive of asking others who don’t share my faith to do the same. There are many faiths and beliefs that we hold for ourselves but do not and should not impose on others with different faiths and beliefs.

But I want you to consider the words of some faith leaders themselves. Have a look:

Bishop Kenneth Corbin, M.Div, BCCC,BCPC,LMSW-R
Principal Bishop Catholic Diocese of One Spirit, Plainview, New York

If you believe, like Rev. Davie does, that all New Yorkers deserve the right “to die in a way that is consistent with their priorities, values and faith beliefs,” then please contact Assemblymember Amy Paulin or Senator Diane Savino to add your name as a co-sponsor of this bill, if you haven’t already. And if you have, thank you. If you’re not ready to do this, I ask you to just consider what you’ve read here and ask yourself why you oppose this measure. I’m always available to talk should you have any questions.

Thank you for giving this some thought,



Weekly Why Archive

Each week that New York State Lawmakers were in session in 2022, Compassion & Choices New York provided a deep dive into each of the issues surrounding New York’s Medical Aid in Dying Act. You can find each of these weekly communications with lawmakers here: 

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