New York Assisted Suicide Bill Narrowly Advanced by Assembly Committee

Hospital-compressedALBANY, N.Y. — An Assembly Committee in New York has approved the advancement of a bill that would allow terminally ill patients to request from their doctors a lethal prescription to hasten their death.

As previously reported, the Medical Aid in Dying Act was introduced during a press conference on May 10 in the state’s capital. It is sponsored by Democratic Rep. Amy Paulin and is based on Oregon’s “Death With Dignity Act,” under which Brittany Maynard ended her life in 2014.

The legislation permits those diagnosed with a terminal disease, which has been confirmed by two physicians, to end their lives with the mortal medicine.

“A patient may make a written request for and consent to self-administer medication for the purpose of ending his or her life in accordance with this article if the patient: (a) has been determined by the attending physician to have a terminal illness and which has been medically confirmed by a consulting physician; and (b) voluntarily expresses the request for medication,” the bill, A10059, reads.

The proposal was debated in the Assembly Health Committee on Monday and narrowly passed 14-11.

“This bill is about patient autonomy and dignity,” Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried, a co-sponsor of the Act, said in a statement. “It meets all the moral and legal standards we look to in reviewing legislation in the Health Committee. The law already allows adults with capacity to refuse life-saving treatment. Similarly, they should have the right to end their suffering through medication if that is their own choosing.”

The group Compassion and Choices praised the outcome of the vote.

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“Lawmakers listened to their constituents in taking this historic step forward for expanding end-of-life options in New York State,” said New York State Campaign Director Corinne 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.”

But others expressed concern that the bill was moved so quickly through the legislature—and without public debate.

J.J. Hanson, a survivor of terminal brain cancer, who now serves as the president of the Patients’ Rights Action Fund, said that the vote sends a message to the sick that “the healthcare system gives them no choice but to kill themselves.” Hanson had been told by doctors that he had four months to live, but eventually overcame glioblastoma, the most aggressive form of brain cancer.

“Without allowing adequate debate or public testimony, the supporters of A.10059 have served an injustice to the citizens of New York State and passed assisted suicide by a narrow margin. This action is not just an insult to good government, A.10059 is a danger to patients, persons with disabilities, and New York’s most vulnerable population,” he stated.

“Thankfully, many members of the Health Committee have demonstrated their grave concern for vulnerable New Yorkers who may be harmed by this dangerous public policy, or worse yet, whose autonomy will be compromised and who will feel as though the healthcare system gives them no choice but to kill themselves, Hanson said.

New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms said that financial considerations could also wrongfully drive residents to suicide.

“By hastily rubber-stamping this deeply problematic proposal, the Committee has taken a step toward a future in which the lives of terminally-ill persons are treated as expendable, and in which insurance companies will be at liberty to make cost-saving coverage decisions that steer vulnerable individuals toward physician-assisted death,” said Executive Director Jason McGuire.

The Act now moves to the full Assembly for consideration.

“Though we are disappointed in the results of today’s vote, NYCF remains thankful that the notion of assisted suicide will die this session,” McGuire said. “As the unusually close committee votes confirms, the votes are just not there to advance this legislation any further. It looks like the bill will remain on life support for the remainder of the legislative session, but the prognosis for its ultimate defeat is good.”

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  • Bradley Williams

    The good news is that there is common ground about assisted suicide. 95% stand against legalizing it when they learn how the laws are composed and can be administered.
    I take exception to the polling on legalizing assisted suicide.
    I have found (serving 60 fair booth days) that about half of the public thinks they are in favor of such a law; that is until they learn about the flaws in the laws that create new paths of elder abuse with immunity. Once they learn that a predatory heir may steer the signup process and then forcibly administer the lethal dose without oversight, they all said, “I am not for that!”.
    Anyway all of these Oregon Model bills, including New York’s A10059, have the same flaws that work together to eviscerate flaunted safe guards.
    For example how many times have you nodded your head when the proponents declared that the lethal dose must be self-administered?
    Well, read the language of the bill, A10059, and you will find that there is no means provided to insure that marketing point. For example “self-administrate” was mentioned 13 times in the 9 page New York A10059 and yet there was no means provided to confirm that the lethal dose was forced or not, or were not willing or unaware. Who would know if they struggled?
    It is a “don’t ask don’t tell” dangerous policy that is sold via a “bait and switch” scam.
    In fact what is provided is that a stranger that claims to know how the person communicates may speak for them (page 2, lines 8-10) which eviscerates all of the safeguards.
    Along with allowing a predatory heir and staff to witness (page 6, lines 24-28) even as other family members are not required to be contact, (page 5, line 51). There are more loopholes.

    This is a very dangerous public policy that by their own records in OR and WA is establishing poisoning as the “medical standard of care” for people that have “feelings” of fear of the loss of autonomy.
    The entire population of New York is at risk of abuse by this poorly composed bill, A10059.

    Respectfully submitted,
    Bradley Williams
    MTaas dot org

    • james blue

      If a bill was written that eliminate all your perceived fears over loophoes would you support the right to die then?

      • Bradley Williams

        I have been calling for elimination of loopholes for years, but instead of fashioning transparent legislation to be good public policy they added a extra large loophole in 2015 in Montana’s SB202. A stranger who claims to know how you communicate may speak for you through out the entire fatal process. That single statement eviscerates flaunted safeguards. Why? Follow the money. The president of the leading proponent corporation is an ex health insurance executive.

        • james blue

          You didn’t answer the question, at least not clearly. If ALL the loopholes and fears you perceive are closed, would you support the right to die?

          What I’m trying to ascertain is if you could write in all the protections you feel are needed would you support the right to die or would you object to it under any circumstance.

          • Bradley Williams

            My point is that the trend over the years is for fewer protections which erodes individual choices, empowering others over the individual. For example in 2015 a doctor proponent at a hearing was asked by another doctor why they just don’t go for euthanasia. The answer was that the public is not ready yet. I would be honored to rewrite the OR and WA laws which were passed as iniatives with marketing sound bites. It is time to amend those laws to restore the safety net that they shredded.

          • james blue

            I understand the point you are trying to make, I’m not arguing against your concerns. what I’m specifically asking is if you support the right to die in principle or not?

          • Bradley Williams

            I do not think our rights go any farther than the next guys nose. Suicide is not against the law. I do not think I have the right to impose on another to kill me.

          • james blue

            Fair enough, but as long as the doctor is willing to assist (not imposed, forced ) you think assisted suicide should be legal?

            I’m not trying to trap you, I may disagree with you but I respect your views. I’ll state outright that with the proper rules in place it should be legal.

          • Bradley Williams

            Straight up, We (us individuals) can not trust the medical-governmental-complex with a license to kill us.

          • james blue

            Do you agree with the death penalty for murderers?

            Again not playing “gotcha”. I support the death penalty, however I think the standard we have to apply it isn’t good enough. “Beyond reasonable doubt” doesn’t make the cut for me, death should only be an option in cases where there can be no doubt whatsoever. In short I think we have a flawed system but I still think certain crimes require the ultimate punishment.

            Sorry if you replied before the edit. I see someone is typing

          • Bradley Williams

            I know that it has been used for oppression. I am not for that. Other than that I could be on either side of the issue.

          • james blue

            My apologies I added to the post as I pressed post by mistake before I had made the point I wanted to use the death penalty for. Please read the edit.

          • Bradley Williams

            You are comparing your position on existing law with your position on proposed legislation. The existing law you settle for the way it is , while considering proposed legislation you may stay firm on your standards. It is a process .

          • james blue

            Yes, but I’m saying I believe in the right to die, the right to assisted suicide regardless of any reservations I have with the system as is. I’m for tightening the system, not denying the right to die.

            Anyway have a good evening a a blessed life. thank you for the civil chat.

          • Bradley Williams

            Good, you have direction to continue to work to tighten the system as it is in process.