Alliance Decries Less-Than-Transparent Process in Suicide Debate

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Albany, NY – With very little notice and few specific details, the Assembly Health Committee has scheduled a vote on a bill to legalize doctor-prescribed suicide for the terminally ill on Monday, May 23, 2016. This brand new legislation, A.10059 (Paulin), was introduced on May 10 of this year, giving lawmakers and the general public very little time for review. Unlike regularly scheduled Health Committee meetings, the meeting at which the highly-controversial bill is listed on the agenda has been called “off the floor,” meaning at some unknown time, in some private meeting room, at some point after the Assembly Session has begun Monday, the bill is expected to see its first vote.

“To take an issue as emotionally charged as assisted suicide and sneak it on to a committee agenda without allowing adequate public review, or any public hearings, is a total lack of transparency,” said JJ Hanson, a terminal brain cancer survivor who opposes the legislation. “This violation of the public trust makes a mockery of our state’s Open Meetings Law and denies sunlight on a critical life-and-death issue.  Similar legislation has led to numerous dangers for our societies’ most vulnerable.  The lack of proper regulation and poor oversights have not been properly reviewed by the members of the Assembly Health Committee. Our state should be calling for the extensive public testimony of doctors, clinicians and ethicists; persons living with disabilities and illnesses; experts in palliative care, hospice and pain management for a thorough analysis, review and discussion before any votes take place.”

Michael Burgess, former Director of the State Office for the Aging and a spokesperson for the NY Alliance Against Assisted Suicide, questioned why elected officials would choose to do business in this fashion. “Less than three weeks ago, the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court ruled that our state’s ban on assisting a suicide is constitutional. In its decision in Myers vs. Schneiderman, the Court noted that there has been no ‘societal evolution’ on this issue and there is no consensus of opinion. Why would our elected representatives choose to rush to vote on a brand new bill giving this kind of unprecedented power to physicians who aren’t even seeking it?” Burgess asked. “It is actions like this that have caused New Yorkers to question the way state government operates,” Burgess concluded.

The New York Alliance Against Assisted Suicide is an alliance of disability rights, health care, civil rights, faith-based and patient advocacy organizations dedicated to preventing the legalization of assisted suicide in New York.

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