By Chris Haring

On a recent edition of WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show, several right-to-die advocates expressed their support for New York’s Medical Aid in Dying Act.

Despite widespread, ongoing public support and several recent key endorsements, the New York Medical Aid in Dying Act (A995/S2445) remains in limbo. With the bill currently in each respective health committee, right-to-die advocates continue to educate the public about physician-assisted death, maintaining cautious optimism that this may be the year that New Yorkers with terminal illnesses will finally be able to access Death with Dignity in their state.

In a recent segment on the Brian Lehrer Show, broadcast via WNYC, scheduled guests and callers alike joined the host to delve deep into the nuances of the aid-in-dying bill, shedding light on its importance, support, and potential impact in New York.

Medical aid in dying has widespread support across New York

Recent polls and endorsements from influential organizations like the New York State Bar Association, the New York State Academy of Family Physicians, and the Medical Society of the State of New York underscored growing support for the bill. 

These endorsements signify a significant shift in mindset and a broader acceptance of the need for compassionate end-of-life options. And the support is not contained within state borders: “[D]octors across the nation support medical aid in dying by a two-to-one margin according to yearly Medscape polls,” one participant noted.

Death with Dignity has a long history of advocacy work in New York

Since the first bill’s introduction in 2016, Death with Dignity CEO Dr. Peg Sandeen has led our efforts to pass assisted dying legislation in the state. As part of the New York Alliance for Medical Aid in Dying, we have commissioned polls, hired a lobbying team, and produced a series of videos by leading legislators who support the bills.

“As noted in the WNYC interviews, we’ve seen groups like the New York State Bar and the NY Medical Society come out in favor of the legislation. And our polling shows that over 70% of New Yorkers want this right for themselves if they become terminally ill,” said Dr. Sandeen. 

As David Leven noted in the interview, New York doctors who studied the Medical Aid in Dying bill back it “by a three-to-one margin: some 67% in favor, only 19% opposed,” adding, “The bill has overwhelming support… that cuts across virtually all demographics from race to religion to political affiliation to age.”

Experts agree that medical aid in dying is safe and effective

As Lehrer solicited opinions from callers, one – Dr. Charles Lapresto, Chair of the Queens chapter of the Medical Society of New York – explained the gradual evolution of public opinion, which now overwhelmingly supports the proposed medical aid in dying laws. 

“I think the critical element here is that the patient has to make their own decision. They have to be able to understand this decision and have to be in the state to make it,” Dr. Lapresto said.

End-of-life doulas can provide critical support during the aid-in-dying process

Sue, a caller from nearby Bergen County, New Jersey, said her mother’s journey included the invaluable support of an end-of-life doula

She provided insights into the complexities and emotional aspects of the decision-making process, describing the doulas as “kind of like a social worker(s) with an end-of-life counseling and guide specialty” who “emotionally… help the patient walk through.”

Momentum for the Medical Aid in Dying Act continues to grow in New York. Advocates remain committed that this year may mark a significant milestone that honors individual autonomy and provides compassionate end-of-life options for terminally ill individuals.

For more information on the status of Death with Dignity in New York, please visit the state page on our website.