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NY medical aid-in-dying bill gains broader support

  • / Updated:
  • Edwin Viera 

New York’s medical aid-in-dying bill is gaining further support. The Medical Society of the State of New York is supporting the bill. New York’s bill allows terminally ill people with only six months to live to use this option, with safeguards requiring two physicians’ approval.

The bill’s Assembly sponsor Amy Paulin, D-Westchester, said despite the growing support, other hurdles lie ahead.

“Now we have what I believe, if it came to the floor, a majority. There’s still a hesitation on the part of leadership. You know, we need members to assure leadership that they no longer have reservations,” she said.

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Other newly resolved concerns center on making sure insurance companies and doctors who don’t support this aren’t held liable. She’s optimistic the bill will pass after nine years in the Legislature. New York would be the 11th state along with Washington, D.C. to have medical aid in dying legislation.

Corinne Carey, senior New York campaign director with Compassion and Choices finds the pandemic drew a vivid picture of a person’s end-of-life experience. There were images of people dying on ventilators, apart from loved ones, and unable to communicate. She said people began thinking about a “good death.”

“And, what is a good death is being surrounded by loved ones, having some measure of control, experiencing the touch of your loved ones, and being the one in the driver’s seat,” she explained.

Now people have different options for end-of-life care, each of which presents various challenges. Polls show medical aid in dying has garnered considerable support since being introduced in 2015. A 2022 Compassion and Choices poll finds 57% of nurses support medical aid in dying professionally, although fewer support it personally.