NY Lawmakers introduce aid-in-dying bill

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – New York lawmakers introduced legislation that would allow terminally ill patients to end their life.

The legislation was announced during a rally for the aid-in-dying legislation.

The Medical Aid in Dying Act would bring together two previous aid-in-dying bills into a single piece of legislation.  The legislation would allow mentally capable and terminally ill adults to request a prescription for life ending medication.

The bill is modeled after Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act and similar laws in other states. Key components of the bill:

  • It allows only qualified, terminally ill and mentally capable adults to receive life ending medication. Two physicians must confirm that the prognosis is terminal.
  • Patients must be refereed to a mental health professional for evaluation, if deemed necessary by either physician.
  • Requires two witnesses to attest that the request is voluntary.
  • Protects the physician from civil or criminal liability, and from professional disciplinary action.
    • Participation by doctors is fully voluntary.
  • Allows for criminal law prosecution for coercing or forging a request.
  • Ensures life insurance payments cannot be denied to the families of those who use the law.
  • The legislation will state that any action taken in accordance with the law is not “suicide” or “assisted suicide.”

Susan Rahn is a mother with Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. With limited time to live, there are several memorable moments she doesn’t want to miss.

“Dying is the last thing I want to do,” she said. “I want to see him graduate high school next year. I want to see him graudate medical school. He’s now going pre-med.”

Rahn was one of over 100 people who attended the rally.

“It’s going to give me peace of mind,” she said. “It’s going to help me reconcile the dying process knowing that I can take a medication that’s going to end pain.”

Jeraldine Fritz and Sayed Fahimuzzaman support the bill.

“Technology, medicine today is possible to help people to die as comfortably with medication, with family support, with religious beliefs,” Fritz said.

“It’s a yes and a no because it depends mainly on the patient and if it’s a disease,” Fahimuzzaman said. “If it’s cancer that’s not curable and the patient really wants it, it’s his right. It’s his right to live, and you have a right to die.”

Opponents of the legislation also attended the rally. Those who oppose said many who are ill have a disability – something a person should remain positive about.

“Contrary to the story out here, it’s not about pain,” Adam Prizio with the Government Affairs of Student Disabilities said. “It’s about societal attitudes about having a disability and the idea that having a disability is a good reason to die.”

Five states, including Vermont, currently allow the option of aid-in-dying.

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