By Chris Haring

In a recent video produced by Death with Dignity, several state legislators in New York shared their reasons for backing physician-assisted death.

With the Medical Aid in Dying Act (A995/S2445) awaiting its hearing in the state’s respective legislative chambers, assisted-dying advocates in New York perhaps have more reason for optimism than ever: several lawmakers have partnered with Death with Dignity to share their reasons for supporting the bill.

The video, as shared by Dan Clark’s Capitol Confidential post on February 15, features six New York State lawmakers, each sharing personal accounts that underscore the urgent need for legislation allowing terminally ill individuals to choose how and when they die.

Lawmakers’ personal stories drive their support for assisted death

Assembly Health Chair Amy Paulin (District 88) has been at the forefront of this legislative push since 2016. Her commitment to the right-to-die movement has roots in the memory of her sister, who endured a painful battle with cancer. Paulin’s witness to her sister’s suffering informs her dedication to ensuring that others facing similar circumstances have expanded end-of-life options.

Reflecting on the evolution of support for the bill, Paulin notes how personal experiences often shape lawmakers’ perspectives. “Many of the legislators who now support it and didn’t initially have had that unfortunate experience,” she shares. “It just changes you. You see death differently.”

Assemblymember Catalina Cruz (District 39) speaks from the heart about her father’s agonizing ordeal with illness. She vividly recounts the debilitating pain he endured and its effect on her family. “[My father] was like a baby,” she said, explaining how her “stepmom had to bathe him, had to wash him” and that he could “barely eat” when he went to the hospital for a final time.

Similarly, Anna Kelles (District 25) noted that her father-in-law, who faces a similar terminal diagnosis, “knows what he wants. He knows how he wants to pass. He knows who he wants by his bedside.” 

Access to end-of-life options is about personal choice

Meanwhile, her colleague Kenny Burgos (District 85) took a “live and let live” approach, emphasizing the importance of allowing individuals to adhere to their own values, provided they do not infringe upon the rights of others. 

Lastly, State Senator Nathalia Fernandez (District 34) echoed the sentiment of fundamental rights and personal autonomy expressed by her peers in the House, saying she believes New Yorkers largely agree that access to medical aid in dying aligns with “the fundamental rights that this country was created on.”

Ultimately, as these legislative champions fight to bring the will of their constituents to fruition, their compelling stories serve as a powerful reminder of the human toll of unnecessary suffering and the imperative of affording individuals the right to a dignified death.”

For more information on how to get involved in efforts to bring a Death with Dignity law to New York, please visit the state page on our website.

View the article below:

CapCon: New Congressional Districts (Again), Hochul & High Taxes, Comptroller’s Budget Views, Thursday Reads

By: Dan Clark
Published: February 15, 2024

💻 Aid in Dying: A handful of state lawmakers are trying to boost support for legislation that would allow terminal patients to be prescribed life-ending drugs so they can die on their own terms before disease kills them. 

  • Supporters call that “medical aid in dying,” and believe those patients should have a choice to end their lives in the way they want. 
  • Also called “death with dignity,” the option is legal in 11 states.

Six lawmakers from the state Assembly sat for a new video from national group Death With Dignity, which advocates for the option to be legalized across the country.

Assembly Health Chair Amy PAULIN has carried the bill since 2016, and has tried to gain support by sharing the experience of her sister, who died a painful death from cancer.

In the video, she said the legislation has gained support over the years because other lawmakers went through something similar.

“Many of the legislators who now support it and didn’t initially have had that unfortunate experience. It just changes you. You see death differently,” Paulin said.

Paulin and Assembly members Jessica GONZALEZ-ROJAS, Catalina CRUZ, Anna KELLES, Nathalia FERNANDEZ, and Kenny BURGOS appeared in the video. 

“My father was in constant pain. He could barely eat when we put him in the hospital,” Cruz said.

The bill is in the Health Committee in both chambers, but won’t come to the floor until Democrats are sure they’ll have the votes to pass it.

Opposition has largely come from religious groups and some disability rights advocates.