Compassion & Choices NY Weekly Why: What Side Are You On? (May 2)

May 2, 2022

Distributed to New York State Lawmakers via email May 2, 2022:

Good afternoon,

Last week, families of 22 advocates for New York’s Medical AId in Dying Act joined lawmakers and other supporters for a Candle-Lighting Tribute and a Rally to ask for your support to end needless suffering and pass the bill authorizing the compassionate option of medical aid in dying in the Empire State (A4321aS6471). I hope you had a chance to view our display in the LOB corridor, speak to some of our staff and supporters, or see some of the news coverage generated from the day.

The media portrays this as a controversial issue, and indeed there are almost always two sides to every bill you consider.

I’d like you to consider today which side you’re on.

Are you on the side of . . .




The vast majority of New Yorkers in favor of this bill, who have been polled by Gallup, Quinnipiac, Sienna, Marist, or even your own constituent surveys.

Here are the latest Marist poll numbers:

59% of New York voters polled support the option of medical aid in dying.

Some of your colleagues have seen numbers as high as 80% when they ask the most likely voters in their districts — people who read their emails and newsletters.

The shrinking minority of New York voters who say they are opposed:

36% in the latest poll.

A growing and broad array of civic groups throughout New York State that include the New York State Academy of Family Physicians, 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.

16 of these groups sent memoranda in support of the bill to legislative leadership last week. You can see the memos here.

A static and small number of very vocal groups that have opposed many of the smart measures the legislature has taken up and passed into law which you can see here.

The weight of more than two decades of evidence from the increasing number of jurisdictions that have given their residents the right to this compassionate option.

The lack of any evidence, despite well-funded opposition groups that would be sure to broadcast to you any evidence of medical aid-in-dying laws gone wrong in states like New Jersey.

Real harms that New York families are experiencing as a direct result of legislative inaction to provide this compassionate option.

Theoretical fears from opponents, cut-and-pasted from opposition positions taken in the early 1990s before any state had ever authorized medical aid in dying, none of which have ever come to pass.

Giving terminally ill New Yorkers the ability to die in a way that is consistent with their faith, their values, and their beliefs, even if those beliefs are not yours. 

Preventing terminally ill New Yorkers from living and dying in a way that is consistent with their faith, their values, and their beliefs because you — or some of your constituents — have a different set of values. 

Do you see yourself on this side of history?

If so, then you should add your name to this bill by contacting Assemblymember Amy Paulin or Senator Diane Savino.

If you are unwilling to put your name on the bill, you should contact the sponsors and leadership and let them know that you will vote yes when the bill comes before you in committee or on the floor.

Do you see yourself on this side of history?

Inaction this year puts you on this side of history, even if you think you are “on the fence” or undecided.

Your inaction will guarantee more suffering like what Ayla Rain Eilert’s family endured.


“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 last June from cancer, just days before you adjourned without taking action.

“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.”

As always, if you’d ever like to have a conversation with me about this, or if you have questions about any of the information I’ve included here, I’m more than happy to meet with you and your staff.

On behalf of the New Yorkers and their families who have suffered, and on behalf of New Yorkers who want to avoid this fate in the future, I thank you,


PS: Don’t forget that you or any member of your staff can RSVP for the free, advance screening of the film Last Flight Home about one Jewish patriarch’s use of California’s medical aid in dying law by emailing me here.


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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