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Patty & Ed O’Connor Both Lost Siblings and Share Their Reasons for Legislature to “Pass Medical Aid in Dying NOW”

“Patty O’Connor’s 53-year-old brother, Jim, died alone because he didn’t want his parents or sister or other loved ones to be prosecuted for assisting him in taking illegal medication to end his suffering from an incurable, terminal disease. Not long after Jim’s death, the sister of Patty’s husband, Ed O’Connor, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She asked Ed how Jim had died and stockpiled medication in case she needed it to end her suffering. Fortunately, Ed’s sister didn’t experience unbearable pain and suffering at the end, so she didn’t need the medication she compiled,” said Compassion & Choices New York Campaign Director Corinne Carey.

“Patty and Ed provide the 19th and 20th reasons the Legislature should pass medical aid in dying now and send it to Governor Cuomo, a supporter, for his signature. We are grateful to the legislators who met with Ed this week and heard him movingly and inspiringly talk about his sister,” Carey said. “While the Legislature fails to bring this bill forward, New Yorkers like Patty O’Connor’s brother and Ed O’Connor’s sister are suffering needlessly at the end of their lives. We can do better than that. That’s why every session day between now and June 2 – unless the Legislature passes the Medical Aid in Dying Act before then – we will release another compelling reason.”

* The 19th Reason to support New York’s Medical Aid in Dying Act comes from Milan, NY resident Patty O’Connor. Patty describes her brother’s death: “And so, he was alone. Alone to take the illegal medication, alone to face the uncertainty of what it might do to him and alone to take his final breath.” Patty says, “We can do better as a society, as a culture, as a democracy. We can respect an individual’s right to choose how they will leave when illness has already chosen that they must.” Patty says the Legislature should pass this bill so that no one’s brother has to die alone to protect his family from prosecution.

* The 20th Reason to support New York’s Medical Aid in Dying Act comes from Patty’s husband, Ed O’Connor. Ed says, “Not long after [his brother-in-law] Jim’s passing, my sister was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. At the time of its recurrence, she began doing a great deal of planning, and making major changes due to her terminal diagnosis. ‘How did he do it?’ she asked about Jim.” Ed continues: “I am grateful that my sister’s passing does not come with a story of unbearable pain and suffering at the end. She received excellent care through hospice. However, her last few months were filled with more fear and anxiety over what could have happened.” Ed says the Legislature should pass this bill so that no one’s sister has to research the best way to take her own life.

New York’s Medical Aid in Dying Act (A.2694/S.3947) with 58 legislative sponsors, including the chairs of both the Assembly and Senate Health committees, is supported by: New York State Academy of Family Physicians, League of Women Voters of New York State, New York Civil Liberties Union, New York State Public Health Association, StateWide Senior Action Council, Gay Men’s Health Crisis, Harlem United, Latino Commission on AIDS, and Latinos for Healthcare Equity, among many others.

Click here to read the full stories behind Reasons 1-20.


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