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Medically assisted death in New York? Will this be the year legislation passes?

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  • Staff Report 

Advocates for medically assisted death are renewing their push for legalization in New York, as supporters hope that the new legislature and changing attitudes toward patient autonomy will win approval for the process.

It’s already legal in 10 states.

Groups have been advocating for medically assisted death for nearly a decade.

Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, a Democrat from Westchester who spoke with the Times Union recently, believes this will be the year. “We’re picking up a lot of momentum. I do think it’s winning over people’s minds,” she told them. That momentum is believed to be connected to the newly-constituted Health Committee, which she will chair.

Some groups remain vocally opposed to the legislation, saying it could bring devastating consequences to some New Yorkers. Broadly made up of religious organizations and disability rights groups, a coalition called the New York Alliance Against Assisted Suicide has warned that if passed, the bill could be used to pressure people with disabilities, seniors or those in low-income communities to choose suicide.

Advocates reiterate that the legislation contains safeguards to prevent the kind of abuse its opponents warn of. The law stipulates that adults seeking a medically assisted death must have a prognosis of six months or less to live because of a terminal illness. Patients must have the full capacity to understand what they are asking for, and must communicate that decision to their primary physician.