Aid in dying bill reintroduced in Albany

Jan 24, 2017

A bill to legalize aid in dying has been re-submitted in the New York legislature.

A similar bill passed the Assembly health committee last year. Organizers are hoping to go further this year, and get a vote in the full Assembly.

Credit Heidi de Marco/Kaiser Health News

Any action on the legislation would come despite opposition from the Catholic Church and some people with disabilities, like Emily Papperman at Ithaca's Finger Lakes Independence Center. Papperman is worried that legalizing aid in dying will leave people with disabilities open to coercion from doctors and family members.

"Lots of people have fought for a lot of years" to give everyone, including people with disabilities, control over their medical decisions, she said last month. "I'm hesitant to relinquish that."

Cases of coercion, however, have not been found in states where aid in dying is legal.

The bill would let doctors prescribe a life-ending medication to a terminally-ill patient. That patient has to be declared mentally competent.

Colorado voters approved it in a referendum in November, becoming the sixth state to legalize it.

Susan Rahn of Rochester traveled to Albany on Monday to advocate for the bill. Rahn has Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer and wants to be able to access the life-ending drugs when the time comes. Her goal is to meet with Governor Cuomo.

"I really think that if I have a chance to speak with him and share my story and why this is so important to me, that I can maybe make him see why this needs to be an option," she told WSKG in December.

Cuomo hasn't taken a public position.