The Latino Commision on AIDS (LCOA) and the Hispanic Health Network (HHN) joined Compassion & Choices to announce their support for the New York Medical Aid in Dying Act. LCOA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting the spread of HIV/AIDS in the Latino community, and HHN works to eradicate health disparities in Latino communities.
Supporters from different cultures and faiths kicked off the morning for a celebration of “Love Compassion and Faith” on the steps of City Hall. The event was led in prayer by Father Luis Barrios, a longtime supporter and member of Compassion & Choices’ Latino Leadership Council. Next to them was Pastor Valerie Ross holding the hands of Nilsa Centeno, whose only son, Miguel, a former New Yorker, suffered horribly before his death to cancer in 2016.
For Guillermo Chacon, president of the LCOA and founder of the HHN, this issue is personal. He was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2005 and has seen countless Latinos suffer with HIV/AIDs in his career. He said, “We need to encourage conversations about end-of-life decisions with our healthcare providers and our own families, as difficult as they might be.” He also expressed his support for medical aid in dying on Univision New York.
This advocacy from the LCOA and the HHN comes only months after the National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA) announced their support for medical aid in dying. These monumental changes are representative of wider favor within the Latino community.
Today, 69% of Latinos support medical aid in dying for terminally ill adults according to a 2016 Lifeway Research poll. Latino lawmakers are sponsors of legislation in four states: Arizona, Nevada, New Jersey and New York.
Centeno held back tears as she spoke of her son, “I promised Miguel that I would fight to make medical aid in dying an option for terminally ill people so they would not have to suffer in agony at the end of life like he did.”