Sponsors of NY Medical Aid in Dying Act Urge Immediate Vote

Paulin & Hoylman-Sigal Joined by Scores of Legislative Champions
May 7, 2024

Joining the Effort: LI Doctor Who Sponsored Resolution Resulting in the Medical Society of New York Supporting Medical Aid in Dying 

Supporting Organizations – League of Women Voters, Statewide Senior Action Network, Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts, NY Bar Assn. – Urge Passage

The prime sponsors of New York’s Medical Aid in Dying Act, Assembly Health Committee Chairwoman Amy Paulin (D-Westchester) and Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal (D-Manhattan), today called upon their respective legislative leaders to schedule a vote on the bill as quickly as possible, prior to session adjournment next month. 

Medical aid in dying allows a terminally ill, mentally capable adult with six months or less to live to request a prescription from their doctor for medication they can take to die peacefully when their suffering becomes too great to bear. Ten states, including New Jersey, Vermont and Maine, as well as Washington, D.C., have authorized medical aid in dying. A recent YouGov poll showed New Yorkers overwhelmingly support medical aid in dying, 72-23%, including strong majorities of Democrats, Republicans and independents, as well as Black, white, Latino, and Asian voters, and voters from every region of the state.

Paulin said: “I have sponsored this bill and fought to give terminally ill New Yorkers the compassionate option of medical aid in dying for nearly a decade, as I’ve worked to educate my colleagues during this time. I’ve answered every question put to me by my colleagues, and more than 60 have joined me in sponsoring this bill. But now is the time for action. Dying New Yorkers have suffered enough. I watched my sister die, wishing she had this option. It’s time.”

Hoylman-Sigal said: “I can feel the momentum behind passing the Medical Aid in Dying Act with each conversation I have with one of my colleagues. And I can see it in the additional sponsors and supporters who, like me, want to see this bill come to the floor for a vote. We know that New York doctors overwhelmingly support it. We know from YouGov and Siena that voters of this state overwhelmingly support it. I am confident that the overwhelming majority of Senators also support providing their constituents – who need or want it – this compassionate end-of-life care option.” 

Hoylman-Sigal and Paulin coauthored an Empire Report column on medical aid in dying earlier this year.

Ronald Menzin, MD, Past President, Nassau County Medical Society, said: “I have long been a supporter of allowing terminally ill patients to have the option of medical aid in dying. I have seen too many people suffer needlessly at the end of their life when they were simply wishing to die without pain and suffering. That’s why I proposed and worked to pass the resolution making it clear that the Medical Society of the State of New York supports medical aid in dying. Where it is authorized, it has brought comfort and relief to countless dying patients, even for those who never avail themselves of the option. I was delighted that the resolution was overwhelmingly approved, with no substantive objections, by the MSSNY House of Delegates. MSSNY now joins the NYS Academy of Family Physicians in urging the Legislature to immediately pass the Medical Aid in Dying Act.”

jeremy boal speaks during a news conference in albany

Jeremy Boal speaks during a news conference in Albany

Jeremy Boal, MD is an internist and geriatrician who served as Executive Vice President and Chief Clinical Officer of the Mount Sinai Health System. Earlier in his career he co-founded the Mount Sinai Visiting Doctors program which provides in-home care to homebound patients. His remarks are not in his official capacity but rather reflect his personal opinion.

Dr Boal said: “I have had the tremendous honor of caring for many patients with serious illnesses in late stages. While we are able to ameliorate suffering for many, the reality is that there are patients whose suffering is beyond measure despite access to the very best palliative care and hospice services. Ayla Eilert’s story so perfectly captures this reality. Not a day goes by when she and her family are not in my thoughts. 

“And as a person now living with ALS, I have gained even more insight into the extraordinary comfort one can have in knowing they might have some measure of control over how much suffering they need to endure when faced with a terminal illness. I have the means and the connections to avail myself of medical aid in dying in Vermont or Oregon. But so many New Yorkers don’t have that ability due to financial and other constraints. And that, quite simply, breaks my heart. Voting yes on Medical Aid in Dying legislation in New York is a vote for compassion, for patient autonomy, and for equity,” Dr. Boal said.

Rev. Ashley DeTar Birt, program manager for New York Unitarian Universalist Justice (NYUUJ) and an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA) in New York City, said: “Allowing dying New Yorkers to have the option of medical aid in dying is an issue of both compassion and social justice. No one should be forced to needlessly suffer in their final days. And government should not stand in the way of giving a dying individual the power to chart an end-of-life course that is consistent with their faith, values and beliefs. Medical aid in dying is not for everyone; I clearly understand that. But those who want that option should have it. The Legislature should pass the bill.”

Earlier today, scores of advocates supporting the Medical Aid in Dying Act from across New York State, spent hours riding the elevators in the Capitol and Legislative Office Building, ensuring that legislators had an opportunity to hear directly from constituents about the importance of passing the legislation in the next five weeks, as well as engaging everyone in the Capitol Complex to urge legislators to pass the bill before the Legislature adjourns for the year. 

Assembly Member Jessica González-Rojas (D-Queens) said: “The Medical Aid in Dying Act would permit mentally capable, terminally ill adults the option to choose a dignified death and end their own suffering in peace. There is no reason a person should suffer in the last days of their lives. New York is a state of progress and a place that embraces bodily autonomy. New Yorkers should have more end of life choices. Many states around the country have already legalized this medical procedure, empowering people to have more control over their end of life experiences. It’s time for New York to do the same.”

Assembly Member Al Taylor (D-Manhattan) said: “As both an Assembly Member and a caregiver, I have intimately witnessed the heartbreaking decisions faced by those battling terminal illnesses and their loved ones. My personal journey, particularly through the tender care of my father, has led me to a profound realization: offering terminally ill individuals the option of medical aid in dying is not merely an act of compassion, but a fundamental acknowledgment of their autonomy and dignity. It’s about affording them the grace to navigate their final moments on their own terms, with dignity and peace. The time has arrived for New York to embrace this compassionate legislation and empower individuals with the right to end their suffering with dignity and compassion.”

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz (D-Bronx) said: “Acknowledging the fervent desire of terminally ill individuals to assert control over their final moments, I stand firmly in support of the Medical Aid in Dying Act. No person should be compelled to endure unnecessary suffering or be forced to uproot their lives to access compassionate end-of-life care. By granting mentally competent patients the autonomy to choose a peaceful passing, surrounded by loved ones, we affirm the fundamental right to die with dignity. The overwhelming support from New Yorkers and across the nation underscores the urgent need for legislation that reflects our shared values of compassion, autonomy, and respect for individual choice. Let us ensure that the Medical Aid in Dying Act becomes a beacon of compassion and empowerment for those facing the most profound human experiences.”

Assemblymember Chris Burdick (D-Westchester County) said: “I continue to be a proud cosponsor of the Medical Aid in Dying Act and will continue to advocate for its passage this session. Dying with dignity on your own terms when you are terminally ill is an option that would alleviate much grief and suffering for individuals and their families.”

Assemblywoman Dana Levenberg (D-Westchester/Putnam Counties) said: “Medical Aid in Dying is legislation whose time has come. Is there anyone whose family has not been touched by the devastation of terminal illness? I know mine has. People should not be forced to linger in needless pain and suffering when they know the end is near, but not near enough. Medical Aid in Dying will offer those enduring terminal illness the choice of a peaceful death on their own terms, which is freedom that every New Yorker deserves.”

Senator Lea Webb (D-Southern Tier) said: “My constituents facing a terminal diagnosis deserve to maintain their bodily autonomy and to choose to peacefully end their suffering surrounded by loved ones. This legislation has wide support by a majority of New Yorkers and will ensure that compassionate end-of-life care options are available to mentally capable, terminally ill adults. It is time to pass Medical Aid in Dying and show our compassion to community members dealing with end of life.”

Corinne Carey, senior New York campaign director of Compassion & Choices, said: “Lawmakers can and should act now to provide their constituents with comfort and love. They should do this for those who are terminally ill and want the ability to die without suffering, consistent with their faith and values. But they should also do it for so many of us who want autonomy over our bodies at every stage of our lives, so we can all make the health care decisions that are right for us. 

“Lawmakers have everything they need to do the right thing. They have the answers to all their questions. They know where the vast majority of their constituents stand. They know the experience from more than a quarter-century, now in 11 American jurisdictions, representing nearly one-quarter of the population. The time for the Legislature to act is now. Their constituents will not remain patient any longer,” Carey said. 

Robin Chappell Golston, President and CEO, Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts, said: “At Planned Parenthood, we believe that patients must hold the power, and that health care decisions should be made in partnership with their trusted medical providers – not politicians. No matter which phase of our lives, being able to exercise our bodily autonomy is a fundamental human right. Health care should be patient-centered and rooted in compassion for that person’s individual circumstances. The Medical Aid in Dying Act will center patients and their families, honor their humanity, and bring relief for suffering patients by giving them control and autonomy at the end of their lives.”

Bob Sinacore, member, board of directors, New York StateWide Senior Action Council & President of its Albany Chapter, said: “Our focus remains improving the lives of older New Yorkers and their families, and ensuring patients know their rights to self-direct their medical decisions. For terminally ill adults who have the capacity to make medical decisions, the decision to seek medical aid in dying is very personal, made in consultation with their family, faith leader and/or physician. We support the Medical Aid in Dying Act not to devalue life – but to celebrate it, by allowing an informed and appropriate patient to carefully, with knowledge and aforethought, plan how, when and with whom they wish to be surrounded as they take their last breath. We look at this based on our founding principles – the right to self-determination and dignity.” 

David Leven, Senior Consultant to End of Life Choices New York, said: “I have been studying medical aid in dying for 22 years. I know – and state legislators should know – that there are many compelling arguments in support of the Medical Aid in Dying Act, and no compelling arguments in opposition. That is why this compassionate, ethical, safe and effective end of life option is supported overwhelmingly by New Yorkers. It is also why so many varied and diverse organizations support the bill. While hospice relieves the suffering of the vast majority of patients, who among us, including legislators, would want a loved one to die with horrible suffering which cannot be relieved by hospice or any other reasonable means?” 

The Medical Aid in Dying Act is supported by numerous advocacy groups in the state, including:

1 in 9 LI Breast Cancer Action Coalition 

ACT UP NY

Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester

Catholic Vote Common Good

Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC)

Harlem United

Indivisible Westchester

Latino Commission on AIDS

Latinos for Healthcare Equity

League of Women Voters of NYS

Medical Society of State of NY (MSSNY)

New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU)

NYS Academy of Family Physicians

NYS Bar Association

NYS Public Health Association NOW-NY

Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts

SAGE NY (Services for LGBT elders)

StateWide Senior Action Council

Westchester Coalition for Legal Abortion

WESPAC Foundation

Women’s Bar Assn. of NYS 

More information on medical aid in dying and the New York campaign can be found on Compassion & Choices’ website, Facebook or Twitter.

Compassion & Choices
Media Contacts

Sean Crowley
Media Relations Director
[email protected]

Patricia A. González-Portillo
National Latino Media Director
[email protected]
(323) 819 0310

Compassion & Choices
8156 S Wadsworth Blvd #E-162
Littleton, CO 80128

Mail contributions directly to:
Compassion & Choices Gift Processing Center
PO Box 485
Etna, NH 03750

VICTORY: Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed the improved End-of-Life Options Act.

X