As we approach the start of a new year, New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms and our allies are continuing to work against the legalization of physician-assisted suicide in New York. Of course, assisted suicide advocates are also getting ready to push their agenda in 2022. Recently, State of Politics reported that the misleadingly-named Compassion and Choices, a pro-assisted-suicide group, was in the process of placing a billboard advertisement in Buffalo.
Currently, it is a crime in the state of New York to help someone to attempt suicide. Assisted-suicide legislation would create an exception to this law, making it legal for doctors to prescribe lethal drugs to terminally-ill patients who are believed to have six months or less to live. While 10 other states have passed assisted suicide laws, 40—including New York—do not allow it.
Christian New Yorkers should be encouraged by the success the Lord has given us in blocking the legalization of physician-assisted suicide. To date, the high-water mark for New York’s assisted suicide advocates came in May 2016, when their bill was narrowly approved by the Assembly Health Committee. The bill failed to advance any further that year. Since then, the movement for assisted suicide has met with nothing but failure in New York. One such failure occurred in September 2017, when the New York Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that New York’s assisted suicide ban was constitutional. Another came in 2019, when then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo came out in support of physician-assisted suicide and the bill failed to advance anyway. Year after year, assisted suicide advocates have held poorly-attended events at the Capitol in an effort to create momentum for their cause; nevertheless, assisted suicide legislation has not been considered in either house of the New York State Legislature in more than five years.
It would be a mistake to relax in our efforts to oppose assisted suicide simply because of past success. In politics, no victory is permanent. Also, polling shows that a majority of New Yorkers support assisted suicide. In 2022, more work remains to be done to convince our fellow New Yorkers and our elected officials that the way to show compassion to persons with terminal illnesses is to help them live—not to help them prematurely end their lives.