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Medical Aid in Dying Act Wins Swift Assembly Committee Vote

Historic Health Committee Vote Builds Momentum for Aid in Dying Option in New York

In an historic vote, the Medical Aid in Dying Act won swift passage through the New York State Assembly Health Committee in a 14-11 vote, bringing the people of New York one step closer to having another medical option to reduce suffering at the end of life. The bipartisan vote occurred fewer than two weeks following the introduction of the Medical Aid in Dying Act, and represents the first time in the history of New York State that aid-in-dying legislation advanced through a legislative committee.

Sponsored by Assembly member Amy Paulin and Senator Diane J. Savino, the Medical Aid in Dying Act (A10059/S7570) would allow terminally ill, mentally capable adults the option to request a prescription from a doctor for medication that they can, if they choose, self-administer to die peacefully if their suffering at the end of life becomes unbearable.

“Lawmakers listened to their constituents in taking this historic step forward for expanding end-of-life options in New York State,” said Corinne Carey, New York State Campaign Director for Compassion & Choices. “The speed with which the Medical Aid in Dying Act made it through the Assembly health committee demonstrates strong momentum for making this option available to terminally ill New Yorkers.”

An EaglePoint Strategies poll shows that three out of four New York voters across political and religious affiliations support access to aid in dying.

“This bill is about patient autonomy and dignity,” said Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried, a co-sponsor of the bill. “It meets all the moral and legal standards we look to in reviewing legislation in the Health Committee. The law already allows adults with capacity to refuse life-saving treatment. Similarly, they should have the right to end their suffering through medication if that is their own choosing.”

“This bill is about patient autonomy and dignity,” said Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried, a co-sponsor of the bill.  “It meets all the moral and legal standards we look to in reviewing legislation in the Health Committee.  The law already allows adults with capacity to refuse life-saving treatment.  Similarly, they should have the right to end their suffering through medication if that is their own choosing.”

Rochester resident Susan Rahn, who has terminal cancer, said, “I’m very grateful that the aid-in-dying bill made it through the Health Committee so quickly. Access to aid in dying would ease my fear and anxiety about suffering in the end, and would help me live my final days to the fullest.”

Assembly member Amy Paulin said, “Moving the bill out of the Health Committee is a great step forward in our efforts to allow medical aid in dying in New York.  I am very pleased that the committee members, under the leadership of the chair, Richard Gottfried, have enabled us to continue on the path to providing mentally competent, terminally ill adults the choice as to whether and when to end their own lives.  I look forward to engaging further in thoughtful dialogue with my colleagues so that we can enact into law this end of life option that 77% of New Yorkers support.”

Gene Hughes with the Resource Center for Independent Living of Utica and disability rights advocate said, “Self-determination has always been the goal of people living with disabilities. We deserve the same end-of-life options as anyone else.”

Medical aid in dying is currently authorized in five states – Oregon, Washington, Vermont, Montana, and most recently, California.

The Medical Aid in Dying Act is modeled after Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act and similar laws in other states: