Albany, NY – On May 30, 2017, the New York Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments in the case of Myers v. Schneiderman. In this case, the plaintiffs argue that the state’s ban on assisted suicide violates the New York State Constitution.
The New York Alliance Against Assisted Suicide has the following comments on today’s arguments:
Stephen P. Hayford, Esq., New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms
Hayford comments: “There is no basis for the argument that New York’s ban on suicide is unconstitutional. Having failed to convince either house of the New York State Legislature that physician-assisted suicide is good public policy, the plaintiffs and the interest groups behind their efforts are pushing their agenda in the courts. The plaintiffs’ ill-founded claims have been rejected by a trial court judge and by a unanimous panel of Appellate Division judges; it is hoped that the Court of Appeals will reject them as well.”
Anita Cameron, Director of Minority Outreach, Not Dead Yet
Cameron notes: “All of the major disability organizations that have taken a position believe that the legalization of assisted suicide is dangerous. It is inherently discriminatory; it opens the way for insurance companies to choose assisted suicide as an option, because it is cheaper than paying for life-saving drugs and treatments; it allows doctors to be gatekeepers to decide whose lives are worthy; and it makes it possible for unscrupulous and abusive family members and heirs to coerce their relative into choosing suicide even if it isn’t what they want.”
JJ Hanson, President, Patients’ Rights Action Fund and Terminal Brain Cancer Patient
Hanson says: “I’ve seen firsthand the dangers inherent in doctor-prescribed suicide. My own doctors mistakenly told me that I had less than 4 months to live, yet here I am today—over 3 years later. In states where assisted suicide is legal, terminal patients have been offered lethal drugs by their insurance companies while coverage for the care they need was denied or delayed. In the states where assisted suicide has been legalized, there has not only been an increase doctor-prescribed death, but also an increase in the general suicide rate as well. Assisted suicide puts the lives of those who are most vulnerable at risk.”
Mrs. Lynda Holler, Widow, Mother and Concerned Citizen (Brewster, NY)
Holler recounts: “My husband, Kenny, was diagnosed with oral cancer eight months after we were married. We battled that horrendous, debilitating disease for twenty-one years. By the time Kenny died in 2014, together with our teenage sons, we had come to truly experience the fruits of deep love and sacrifice. Physician-assisted suicide perverts the dying process and robs families of irreplaceable end-of-life opportunities. Through Kenny’s model of suffering and living his life out to its natural end, I have come to recognize that how we die is the culminating statement of our lives. Through it, Kenny taught the communities of people around him both how to live and how to die. That is death with dignity, and our boys and I couldn’t be more peaceful or more proud.”
David Kim, MD, American Academy of Medical Ethics
Kim says: “As a physician treating critically ill patients for many years, I fear what the legalization of assisted suicide will mean for my profession and the trust patients will have in it. Will my patients be able to trust my judgment and their best interests knowing that I could become their judge, jury and executioner all in one? What will the repercussions be on our ability to truly care for our sickest patients if I as a professional, trained in a healing profession, look at someone in desperate need and say with my words and actions, ‘your life may not be worth living’? It is far better for the patient and the profession to insist that life is in fact worth living for, and to fight the physical, mental and emotional suffering of patients and their families with personal affirmation, effective pain control and counseling support, instead of giving in to their despair. We fight against the pain of suicide and its well-documented causes everywhere else in society—why should physician-assisted suicide be a justifiable exception?”
The New York Alliance Against Assisted Suicide is an informal association of many diverse organizations, institutions, agencies and individuals in New York State committed to preventing the legalization of assisted suicide in the state. They include representatives of the following communities: disability rights, patients’ rights, health care, civil rights, senior rights and various faith-based advocacy organizations.