Albany, NY – October 6, 2015 – Pivoting from its successful campaign to get aid-in-dying legislation enacted into law in California, Compassion & Choices, the nation’s largest non-profit organization committed to improving care and expanding choice at the end of life, is turning its focus to passing similar legislation in New York. Touting a new, non-partisan poll showing that three out of four New York voters support this option, Compassion & Choices also announced the expansion of its New York advocacy campaign with the hiring of veteran legislative campaigner, Corinne A. Carey, as its New York State Campaign Director.
The EaglePoint Strategies poll, which has a 3.1 percent margin of error, was conducted September 15-20, before California Governor Jerry Brown signed the California End of Life Option Act. The survey shows strong bipartisan support upstate and downstate for similar legislation here in New York.
According to the poll, 77 percent of New York voters said that a terminally ill, mentally competent adult should be allowed to request a prescription for life-ending medication that they could choose to use to end their suffering in the final stages of dying. When respondents learned more about the bill, including arguments against aid in dying, support for access to the option increased to 81 percent, or to 4 out of 5 voters.
The poll also shows that a strong majority of voters across political and religious affiliations support access to the option of aid in dying.
“These strong poll numbers show overwhelming bipartisan support for giving terminally ill adults facing unbearable suffering access to medical aid in dying in our state,” said Corinne A. Carey, the newly appointed New York State Campaign Director for Compassion & Choices. “I am honored to join Compassion & Choices in its campaign to expand end-of-life options in New York. As we connect with voters, advocates and legislators, I’m confident that New York will become the next death-with-dignity state.”
Carey joins Compassion & Choices from the New York Civil Liberties Union, where she served as senior policy counsel & assistant legislative director, managing a broad portfolio of legislative and policy issues. Carey earned a master’s degree in American Studies from the State University of New York at Buffalo and graduated first in her class at SUNY Buffalo Law School.
“This poll shows people in New York are no different from those in California, Oregon, Washington or any other state when it comes to this issue. They want and deserve the peace of mind that comes with aid in dying. No government should withhold this compassionate option from people facing the end of life,” said Barbara Coombs Lee, President of Compassion & Choices. Coombs Lee expressed confidence that with Carey as New York Campaign Director, Compassion & Choices had hired an experienced legislative advocate who will help secure a much-needed end-of-life option for New Yorkers.
The new hire comes as death with dignity makes unprecedented, bipartisan progress in Albany, where State Senators Diane Savino (D), Brad Hoylman (D) and John Bonacic (R), and Assembly members Amy Paulin (D) and Linda Rosenthal (D), have introduced bills this year that would authorize the option of aid in dying to alleviate suffering at the end of life.
“As this poll clearly indicates, New Yorkers want government out of their lives when it comes to dealing with the very personal decisions of managing pain and the end of life,” said Senator Diane Savino. “Voters across ideological and geographic boundaries are in agreement and are ahead of their elected representatives – it’s time we have a serious conversation about end-of-life options in Albany.”
New York is one of 26 states (and the District of Columbia) around the nation that have considered death-with-dignity legislation in the past year. These laws authorize aid in dying, which allows terminally ill, mentally competent adults the option to request a prescription for life-ending medication that the patient can self-administer – when and if they choose – to reduce suffering at the end of life and bring about a more peaceful and humane death.
Medical aid in dying is currently authorized in five states – California, Oregon, Washington, Vermont, and Montana. Its authorization in New Mexico is pending a state Supreme Court appeal.
The New York End of Life Options Act sponsored by Senator Savino (S3685, matched by A2129a sponsored by Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal) is modeled after legislation in Oregon and other states: