Legislative Session Concludes With Win Against Assisted Suicide

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Albany, NY— New York’s 2023 regular legislative session is over, and assisted suicide legislation has failed—despite an end-of-session push—to receive approval in the State Senate or in the State Assembly. This is welcome news.

Assisted suicide bills have been introduced in New York during each legislative session since 2016. These bills have never received votes on the Senate floor or the Assembly floor.

Max Rodriguez, Manager of Government Affairs for the Center for Disability Rights (CDR) and a New York Alliance Against Assisted Suicide (NYAAAS) spokesperson, remarked, “By declining to pass the assisted suicide bill, the Legislature has correctly refused to create a discriminatory system wherein most New Yorkers are urged not to commit suicide while terminally-ill New Yorkers are offered suicide as a medical treatment option.”

The Legislature has also avoided the following potential outcomes:

  • Assisted suicides due to inaccurate medical prognoses;
  • Assisted suicides based on the misconception that the pain caused by terminal illness cannot be effectively managed;
  • Assisted suicides due to undiagnosed mental health conditions that affect patients’ decision-making abilities;
  • Assisted suicides due to a perception that terminally-ill persons have a “duty to die” because of the disabilities that they face and because of the costs and challenges associated with their care;
  • Misuse of lethal drugs by persons other than the persons to whom they are prescribed;
  • Normalization of suicide amongst the general population; and
  • Future expansion of assisted suicide to populations other than the terminally ill.

Diane Coleman, president of Not Dead Yet and an Alliance spokesperson, said, “We hope that legislators will continue to recognize that the dangers of medical mistakes and financial pressures in the context of assisted suicide are simply too high. In states where assisted suicide is legal, everyone who dies by assisted suicide is disabled, whether or not they are actually terminal. Moreover, their reasons are primarily unmet disability related needs, including the need for in-home personal care. New Yorkers with terminal illness need quality healthcare and in-home support, not a streamlined path to death.”

Alex Thompson, Director of Advocacy at the New York Association on Independent Living (NYAIL) and a spokesperson for the NYAAAS said, “The New York Alliance Against Assisted Suicide (NYAAAS) thanks our allies in the Legislature for standing strong against this dangerous proposal. In the coming years, the NYAAAS will continue to work together to uphold the lives and rights of our neighbors.”

Any person considering suicide is encouraged to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255. “Suicide is not a solution. Your life is worth living,” concluded Coleman.

This article was updated on June 22, 2023

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