Medical Aid-in-Dying Advocates Ask Legislators: How Many More Dying New Yorkers Need to Suffer Before You Act?
Dozens of advocates for the Medical Aid in Dying Act rallied at the State Capitol on May 24.
Dozens of advocates for the Medical Aid in Dying Act – sponsored by Senator Diane Savino (D-Staten Island) and Assemblymember Amy Paulin (D-Westchester) and more than 70 cosponsors in the two houses – rallied at the State Capitol today to ask lawmakers, “How many more dying New Yorkers need to suffer while dying before you pass this compassionate end-of-life care option?”
Medical aid in dying allows a terminally ill, mentally capable adult with six months or less to live to request a prescription for medication from their doctor they can take when their suffering becomes too great to bear and die peacefully. Ten states, along with Washington, D.C., authorize medical aid in dying. A recent Marist poll shows strong support, 59-36 percent, for medical aid-in-dying among New York state voters, with majority support among Republicans, Democrats and independents, upstaters and downstaters, regardless of race or gender.
Stacey Gibson, from Garrison, NY, said, “I have been advocating for medical aid in dying since 2015, in honor of my husband Sid Gibson. Sid died at the age of 68 from a degenerative neurological disease similar to ALS. While no death is welcome, Sid’s was especially unpleasant. If medical aid in dying had been available, his final days could have been less traumatic, more peaceful and truly representative of the glorious life he led.
“I have survived cancer twice and now face a third cancer,” Gibson said. “You may not think I’m lucky, but I am. I have received extraordinary care and have reaped the benefits of today’s amazing medical advances. But I don’t know what lies ahead. What I do know is that I want access to medical aid in dying should I need it. It’s time for legislators to stop the suffering and pass the bill.”
Corinne Carey, Compassion & Choices Senior New York Campaign Director, “Last month, we honored the 21 brave advocates who have died during the course of our campaign, too many of whom were forced to face their worst nightmares: suffering, some with pain that could not be controlled, through their final hours, days and weeks.
“Today, we have one simple message for Speaker Heastie, Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, and their 211 colleagues: Ignoring the suffering of dying New Yorkers does not ease their suffering. Nor does it provide them with the autonomy they seek to make healthcare decisions about their lives. There’s still time. You have the power to honor bodily autonomy and stop needless suffering by passing this bill. Please do it,” Carey said.
The legislation is supported by numerous advocacy groups in the state including, among others: the New York State Academy of Family Physicians, New York Civil Liberties Union, League of Women Voters of New York State, StateWide Senior Action Council, NYS Public Health Association, Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts, NOW-NY, ACT UP NY, Harlem United, Latino Commission on AIDS, Latinos for Healthcare Equity, the WESPAC Foundation, and SAGE NY, which advocates for and provides healthcare and other services to LGBT elders. You can see many memos in support of these and other organizations here.