As the Compassion and Choices fiscal year ends, the NYS campaign director looks back and forward:
Will 2018 be the year that New York joins six other states and the District of Columbia in allowing New Yorkers the choice of medical aid in dying? On the merits, it absolutely should be.
We know that talking about death and dying is really hard, and that this year, a number of lawmakers faced difficult personal experiences that made it painful to have these discussions with us. But we also know that millions of New Yorkers confront and talk about end of life issues with family, friends, neighbors, and fellow parishioners every day. We know too that they are looking to Albany to provide an important option as they or loved ones face those challenges.
We made great progress this year. An increasing number of legislators are hearing from more of their constituents urging them to support the Medical Aid in Dying Act (S3151/A2383). Over the next six months, with the Legislature out of session, that activity will intensify locally, and there are now fewer than 500 days until all state offices and all 213 legislative seats are up for election.
So, if the Governor and Legislature do not enact the Medical Aid in Dying Act in 2018, they will be facing an electorate (see poll) that overwhelmingly supports medical aid in dying in New York, 81-19 percent.
Our campaign, powered by thousands of Compassion & Choices supporters and volunteers – accomplished much during the first half of 2017 on the path to passing a law to provide terminally ill, mentally competent New Yorkers who seek it, an important end-of-life option. Specifically:
- We’ve nearly doubled the number of sponsors of the Medical Aid in Dying Act from 15 at the beginning of the year to 29 today;
- We have met with more than three-quarters of legislators in person to understand their views on the issue, answer their questions about aid in dying, and talk to them about its impact in other states where it’s legal;
- After three years of careful deliberation, the New York Civil Liberties Union position has evolved and NYCLU now supports the bill;
- The New York State Public Health Association has voted to endorse the bill;
- The bill is now also supported by the Statewide Senior Action Council;
- A number of major professional associations representing healthcare professionals have engaged meaningfully with our campaign and are reexamining their positions; and,
- The Medical Society of the State of New York voted to survey physicians this fall about their attitudes towards aid in dying.
There is still much work to do. We will continue to speak out publicly and be a resource for all New Yorkers who want to learn more about aid in dying. Along with thousands of New Yorkers, we will continue to meet and talk with legislators over the next six months while they are home in their districts.
We strongly believe that when the Legislature and Governor return to Albany for the 2018 legislative session, that they will not want to leave the Capitol to face voters without passing the Medical Aid in Dying Act.