Legislation that would allow assisted suicide in the state of New York has been re-introduced in 2023, and supporters of that legislation held a rally in the New York State Capitol on January 17, 2023.
As many Christian New Yorkers will recall, the assisted suicide bill, S.2445-Hoylman-Sigal/A.995-Paulin, would let physicians prescribe lethal drugs to terminally-ill patients who are expected to die within six months. It is illegal in New York to assist another person in attempting suicide; the proposed legislation would create an exception to that ban in situations where terminally-ill patients request lethal drugs. New York’s ban on assisted suicide has been upheld as constitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States and by the New York Court of Appeals. At this time, assisted suicide is legal in 10 states and Washington, D.C.
New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms opposes assisted suicide because human life is sacred. A compassionate society accompanies and helps persons who endure terminal illnesses; it does not make lethal drugs available to them.
There is good news regarding the re-introduction of the assisted suicide bill. To date, this year’s bill has been sponsored by 52 members of the Assembly. While this number is higher than one might hope, it is still an improvement; during the 2021-2022 legislative session, 56 assemblymembers sponsored the bill.
At the January 17 rally, several incorrect and misleading statements were made by assisted suicide supporters. First, Asm. Anna Kelles (D-Ithaca) lauded the assisted suicide bill, asserting that it contains “‘amazing safeguards so that the person themselves can choose [to] not die in the most excruciating pain in their lives in a moment of an incredible experience of death.’” Asm. Kelles is wrong on two counts. For several reasons, the safeguards in New York’s assisted suicide bill have been criticized as inadequate. The bill does not require a consultation with a mental health professional, nor does it require that a medical provider be present when lethal drugs are ingested. Also, the disturbing truth is that lethal drugs do not guarantee anyone a pain-free death. In fact, such drugs sometimes cause muscle spasms, vomiting, inhalation of vomit, confusion, and panic. Also, after a person ingests such drugs, it can take hours or days for death to occur.
Tragically, one rally attendee named Stacey Gibson stated that she had lost her husband to a neurological disorder. Gibson recalled that at one point, her husband had said, “‘“I just realized I’m never going to be able to dance at our granddaughter’s wedding.”’” When she heard her husband say this, Gibson “‘knew his spirit was gone and it was the end.’” Many people who wish to commit assisted suicide are concerned about the disabilities and loss of independence that their illnesses can cause. However, a person’s life does not cease to be worth living simply because that person is enduring a disability or a handicap.
Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal (D-Manhattan) is the new Senate sponsor of the assisted suicide legislation. (The bill’s longtime Senate sponsor, Sen. Diane Savino, retired at the end of last year.) At the January 17 rally, the Senator said, “‘Medical aid in dying is really about peace of mind, it’s having that assurance at the end of your life, no matter when that might be that you do have options.’” At New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, we beg to differ with Sen. Hoylman-Sigal’s assertion that the availability of lethal drugs would give anyone “peace of mind.” We believe that suicide is never the solution and that it is dangerous for the Senator and other assisted-suicide activists to encourage self-harm as an exit strategy.
On January 17, Julie Farrar of Not Dead Yet spoke out in opposition to assisted suicide. Farrar correctly argued that assisted suicide “in essence, tells people, ‘we are all cheaper dead, we are all less expensive if we need no treatment at all.’” Instead of legalizing assisted suicide, Farrar urged Albany lawmakers to “consider ways of expanding health care and assisted living for vulnerable people.”
With the Lord’s help and the help of our allies at the New York Alliance Against Assisted Suicide, NYCF has blocked assisted suicide legislation in New York for the past seven years. We cannot continue to fend off this dangerous proposal without your help. Please click here to contact your state legislators and strongly urge them to oppose assisted suicide.