Proposed legislation in the New York State Assembly and Senate would create a “right to die,” enabling people suffering from painful terminal illnesses to use medication provided by a physician to end their lives.
New York state is one of more than a dozen states considering right-to-die legislation. Three states, Oregon, Washington and neighboring Vermont, have enacted laws enabling physician-assisted suicide.
Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, D-Westchester, is the sponsor of the right-to-die bill in the Assembly. Her bill says any patient who wants to seek medical assistance to end his or her own life would need to have the following qualifications:
– The patient’s doctor must determine the patient likely would die within the next six months.
– The patient must have the mental capacity to make the decision to die.
– The patient must make a formal written request with two witnesses, one of whom must be independent with no possible benefit from the patient’s death.
Lawmakers must ensure the measures in the bill are sufficient. First and foremost, the adult choosing death must be of sound mind and have a proven terminal illness. If careful, stringent safeguards are taken, we would recommend legislators support the proposal.
In cases when a terminally ill patient desires a peaceful, less-painful death – rather than prolonged misery and suffering – physician-assisted termination of life should be an option and the right of any competent person.