Compassion & Choices NY Weekly Why: New York Lawmakers Failed Dying New Yorkers (June 2)

June 2, 2022

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

Good afternoon,

This Legislature had the ability to ease the suffering of dying, terminally ill New Yorkers and once again failed to do so by declining to even consider New York’s Medical Aid in Dying Act ( A4321aS6471).

As the Albany Times Union said in an editorial on June 1, A Legislative Must-Do List:

“New York should provide terminally ill people who want to end their suffering with the option to safely and painlessly do so – as ten other states have done.

The Medical Aid in Dying Act would let doctors write a prescription that the patient could self-administer to achieve a peaceful death, while ensuring it only applies to people capable of making this decision for themselves.

How many more New Yorkers must suffer needlessly while waiting for lawmakers to allow a humane and dignified choice?”

The majority of New Yorkers support this option and share the feelings expressed by Carol Keyser in a Letter to the Editor on Syracuse.com, Legislators should pass Medical Aid in Dying Act. In it, Keyser says:

“I am appalled that New York does not have medical aid in dying to provide options to those suffering with excruciating terminal illnesses. . . . With patients and my own family members, I have witnessed extreme suffering at the end of life. If a person has a terminal illness where their quality of life torturous, they deserve the option to leave their life in peace. This bill offers that option while including important medical protections to keep patients safe.”

How will you explain this failure to your constituents? 

Were the 60 Reasons to pass the bill – each one representing the story of a real New Yorker who either witnessed unmitigable suffering or faced that same suffering themselves – not enough?

Are the polling numbers – showing that strong majorities across every demographic and across party lines support this bill – not high enough?

Is the Legislature more willing to accept baseless fears over the quarter-century of evidence we shared through our Weekly Why series each week this year?

Was it a waste of time for Stacey Gibson – who has been fighting since 2015 for this option in memory of her husband Sid, and is now asking for the option for herself as she’s facing a third cancer diagnosis – to travel to Albany to meet with lawmakers and record a video pleading for this option?

Were you and your colleagues completely unmoved when the parents of Ayla Rain Eilert – who died on April 2 at the age of 25, begging for medical aid in dying from every healthcare provider she encountered – traveled to Albany to beg the Legislature to debate this bill so that no one has to endure what their daughter did?

And it seemed to make no difference at all when the family members of the 22 advocates who died while lawmakers were “still thinking” about this issue after having all of the facts before them came to Albany to light a candle for their loved ones and beg for the legislature to take up and pass this bill.

We watched as lawmakers stood alongside Governor Kathy Hochul and affirmed their support for bodily autonomy and a woman’s right to control her body after the leaked decision from the Supreme Court signaled the potential end of Roe v. Wade. And we wondered how some of those very same lawmakers have not publicly supported bodily autonomy for terminally ill New Yorkers suffering through their final days.

When you depart Albany this week, please go back to your district and talk to your constituents about this issue.

  • Put a question in your constituent communications asking them how they feel about giving terminally ill New Yorkers bodily autonomy and the ability to avoid needless suffering at the end of their lives.

  • Read the bill (A4321a/S6471).

  • Talk to your colleagues who have signed on as co-sponsors.

  • Look at the list of supporters and opponents of this legislation and ask yourself which side you want to be on.

  • If you have questions, please ask me. I am available to meet via zoom, in person, however you prefer. We have more data and facts to provide you with a clear picture of what this bill would do and more importantly would not do and I am happy to talk through that with you.

I understand that medical aid in dying isn’t a priority for anyone . . . until it is. I pray that you never face the pain and helplessness experienced by the families of those who have died begging you to make this a priority and pass this bill. I pray that it doesn’t take a personal experience with this kind of suffering to motivate you to make this a top priority in 2023.

Sincerely,

Corinne Carey

 

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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