UPDATE: The bill passed a New York Assembly committee on May 23. Read more here.
Dozens of motivated activists gathered at the New York State Capitol in Albany on May 10 for Spring Lobby Day to talk to legislators about why it’s time to authorize medical aid in dying in the Empire State. C&C kicked off the event with a well-attended press conference to announce an important breakthrough: Sponsoring lawmakers, Sen. Diane Savino and Assemblymember Amy Paulin, combined what had been two medical aid-in-dying bills for the state that had been competing for attention into one, the Medical Aid in Dying Act.
The sponsors of the new unified bill spoke alongside three outstanding supporters including longtime disability-rights activist Gene Hughes and a clergy member, Rev. Dr. Bill Levering. Hughes explained to lawmakers, “Aid in dying is about personal autonomy – this is what people living with disabilities have always sought – the right to live our lives and to make our own decisions.” And Rev. Levering spoke from the point of view of faith leaders who often counsel those facing death, “We sit with people who have monumental and justified fears of needless pain and lingering, in a state they would not choose. It is because we care for people that we care for this legislation.”
After the press conference, Compassion & Choices volunteers from across the state held nearly 100 meetings with state legislators. The event also generated significant media attention from area newspapers, television stations and online journals. Corinne Carey, state director for Compassion & Choices, put out a call for people to write to New York lawmakers in support of the Medical Aid in Dying Act as well. The initial goal was 500 emails, but as of today, over 2,600 have been sent. Our efforts were rewarded: This afternoon, the Assembly Health Committee voted 14-11 in favor of the bill, which will now move to the Assembly Codes Committee. “Lawmakers listened to their constituents in taking this historic step forward for expanding end-of-life options in New York state,” said Carey. “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.”
Polling in the state shows broad support across political and religious affiliations, with three out of four New Yorkers favoring the expanded option.
More opportunities to help lie ahead for this major campaign. If you’re a New York resident, consider getting involved today! Even just sharing your personal views or experiences can be extremely helpful in convincing lawmakers and others how important expanded options are. Visit the New York page of our website or Compassion & Choices New York on Facebook to get connected and learn more!