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NY Court’s Rejection of Medical Aid in Dying Case Puts Onus on NY Legislature to Enact Law

Lawmakers Should Honor Wishes of 77% of State Residents Who Support Medical Aid in Dying

(Albany, NY – Aug. 7, 2017) The New York Court of Appeals’ rejection of a lawsuit asserting that terminally ill adults have a constitutional right to medical aid in dying puts the onus on the state legislature to enact a law to authorize this popular option to end unbearable suffering.

“While we were supportive of the plaintiffs in this case, now we urge the legislature and Governor Cuomo to honor the wishes of more than three-quarters of their constituents by enacting a law in 2018 authorizing medical aid in dying as an option for terminally ill adults to end unbearable suffering,” said Corinne Carey, New York State campaign director for Compassion & Choices, which filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case, Myers v. Schneiderman.

“Our job is to educate them that while a very low percentage of terminally ill New Yorkers will utilize this option, similar laws in other states have improved end-of-life care for many dying people, by spurring conversations about all end-of-life care options, resulting in better utilization of hospice, pain control and palliative care,” added Carey.

“Governor Cuomo hasn’t yet taken a position on New York’s Medical Aid in Dying Act,” Carey concluded. “But given its popularity, including among Catholics, and endorsements of the bill by the New York State Academy of Family Physicians, New York State Public Health Association, Mobilizing Preachers & Communities, and Statewide Senior Action Council, we are optimistic that he’ll be supportive when the legislature sends him a bill.”

Medical aid in dying is authorized in the District of Columbia and six states: California, Colorado, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Vermont. These seven jurisdictions, which represent 18 percent of the nation’s population, have 40 years of collective experience with this end-of-life care option with no evidence of misuse.

National and state polls consistently show the vast majority of physicians and Americans across the ethnic, political and religious spectrum support. This majority includes: African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Hispanics-Latinos, conservatives, Democrats/Democratic-leaning independents, liberals, moderates, Republicans/Republican-leaning independents, Catholics, Christians, Protestants, people of other faiths, people living with disabilities, and physicians.