Thousands of New Yorkers Sign Petition to Pass Medical Aid-in-Dying Act

Advocates deliver petitions to Governor Hochul’s office; other legislative work heats up nationwide.
January 20, 2022

Compassion & Choices New York presented Governor Kathy Hochul with petition signatures from more than 4,000 New Yorkers on January 10 in support of New York’s Medical Aid in Dying Act, sponsored by Senator Diane Savino and Assemblymember Amy Paulin.

The petition reads:

I believe that New Yorkers should have the same comprehensive end-of-life care options that 1 in 5 people living in the United States now have, including our neighbors in New Jersey and Vermont. I support giving dying New Yorkers the option of medical aid in dying. This compassionate legislation would allow a terminally ill, mentally capable adult to request and receive a prescription medication they can take at a time they choose to avoid needless suffering and die peacefully in their sleep.

Thad Mirer, director of Death with Dignity – Albany, said, “We are all going to have an end to our lives, sometime. For those New Yorkers who are months, weeks or days away from certain death, often suffering or in great pain, medical aid in dying offers an alternative. It’s a long-established, compassionate end-of-life healthcare option that can mean the difference between peace and suffering, both for the individual and for their loved ones. Some will choose that path; others will not. But all benefit from having the option. Legislators have a chance to stop suffering for many New Yorkers, without harming anyone. They should just pass the law.”

Dr. Mary Applegate of Delmar, with a long and distinguished public health career, described the death of a close friend with ALS. “As he steadily declined and was aware of the worse to come, he brought on his own death in the only way legally open to him in New York: He starved himself to death. It was awful for him and even more awful, I think, for his family. There is no reason people should have to die in pain and suffering. I urge Governor Hochul to make enacting the Medical Aid in Dying Act a priority in 2022.”

Barbara Thomas of Saratoga Springs told the heart-wrenching story about her husband, Bob, who died 10 years ago next week after a horrendous struggle with brain cancer. “Bob was ready to die. To be clear, Bob was not suicidal. He wanted to live, but his cancer was ending his life. All he was asking for was help to end his suffering when he couldn’t take it anymore. We would lay in his bed and cry together. When Bob died, I vowed I didn’t want anyone else I love to suffer like that. And I don’t want to suffer that way either. I’m here today to tell lawmakers that now is the time. Stop the suffering and pass the Medical Aid in Dying Act now.”

“The recent Marist poll continues to show that voters  — Republicans, Democrats and independents, upstaters and downstaters, regardless of race or gender — strongly support medical aid in dying,” Compassion & Choices Senior New York Campaign Director Corinne Carey said. “It’s important for lawmakers running for re-election this year to know that New Yorkers support the issue. But more importantly, they need to understand that this law will not result in more people dying in New York; it will only result in fewer people suffering unbearably at the end of their lives. Governor Hochul and the Legislature have the power to stop needless suffering.”

We anticipate at least 15 states in addition to New York will consider legislation to authorize medical aid in dying this year. Along with our sister organization, the Compassion & Choices Action Network, we will work to persuade lawmakers to advance legislation. In several other states, we are continuing organizing efforts with our sights set on 2023. We are already seeing some glimpses of hope. In Delaware, after a January 19 hearing at which President and CEO Kim Callinan offered testimony, HB 140  — the Ron Silverio/Heather Block End of Life Options Act — passed out of the General Assembly’s House Health and Human Development Committee on an 8-7 vote. The bill moves to the House floor now. Also, the state’s medical society recently dropped its opposition to medical aid in dying.

Because our goal is not to just pass new legislation but to improve existing laws, we have spent the past few months reaching out to lawmakers, speaking at events and generating media coverage in an attempt to use the recent wins in California and New Mexico to convince lawmakers to pass bills that find a better balance between access and protection. Washington’s House of Representatives, in fact, passed the Improving Access to Death With Dignity Act January 12 with a bipartisan vote of 58-37. The bill next heads to the Senate.

Keep track of our progress across the nation and in your state or get involved!

Compassion & Choices
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Sean Crowley
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Patricia A. González-Portillo
National Latino Media Director
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(323) 819 0310

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