Medical aid in dying laws remain contentious in NYS

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Since the end of New York’s legislative session, Medical Aid in Dying laws have gone into effect in New Jersey and Maine.

The so-called Death with Dignity legislation allows the terminally ill to choose when they die with the assistance of a doctor.

A total of nine states and the District of Columbia have authorized “right to die” laws, according to the advocacy group Compassion & Choices. Several more states have had legislation introduced this year, including New York.

“I think dying New Yorkers are looking over the border to New Jersey and to Vermont, and they’re seeing that more than 20 percent of Americans now have this critical compassionate end of life option and there’s no reason why New Yorkers shouldn’t have it as well,” Compassion & Choices NY Campaign Director Corinne Carey said.

A pair of Assembly and Senate bills were introduced last winter but never made it out of their respective health committees despite rallies at the Capitol for change. Similar versions of the bill have been introduced since 2015.

Supporters hope that when lawmakers return this winter things will be different.

“I think, in the past, we’ve had a legislature that maybe hasn’t looked to the evidence, and now we have lawmakers in positions of power that look at the evidence and look and see that this is a time tested practice,” Carey said.

“As a practicing physician, I have seen very poor outcomes of end of life for people who did not want to go through the suffering of a terminal illness and did not have any other options to use than just regular medical treatment that was available at the time,” American Academy of Neurology Fellow Seth Morgan said.

Meanwhile, the legislation has faced opposition from other groups. The Center for Disability Rights says it could be open to abuse. And New York State Right to Life has stated it “strongly opposes” the bills as well. 

The current New York State legislation would take effect immediately if signed into law. On November 8, the New York State Bar Association held a panel discussion examining the issue.

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