ALBANY N.Y. (WTEN) — The controversial Medical Aid in Dying Act has been proposed once again this year. The legislation would allow those with a terminal illness to request medication that allows them to die peacefully, but some are asking that the eligibility for those who can acquire the prescription be expanded.
“This legislation puts the power of how people die in the hands of the dying person,” said Corrine Carey, Senior Campaign Director for Compassion and Choices in New York and New Jersey. The bill would allow patients who have six months or less to live, and deemed mentally stable to request the medication. Right now, Medical Aid in Dying is legal in 11 states. Carey says advocates have been fighting for this legislation for eight years, “I just believe that everyone should have the right to die in a dignified way that’s consistent with their own faith and their own values and their own beliefs.”
Cassandra Johnston agrees. Johnston was diagnosed with stage three cancer and says at the time of her diagnosis she was looking at all options of treatment. “And so you know, the stress of having cancer is one thing, but the stress of not knowing how traumatic or painful or just how much anguish you could suffer at the end of life really is what got me interested in being an advocate for this,” she said.
Reverend Jim Harden is against the legislation. He said medical care is specifically designed to heal and maintain life, “When you start to use medical technology to destroy life or hasten the demise of an existing life it goes against the entire grain of what medicine is all about and it devalues the person.”
Max Micallef is an advocate for the original legislation and would even like to see it expanded to allow for people with invisible disabilities like chronic depression and anxiety to have access to the drug. “I will be one of the first people to tap into this expansion if it happens and I will be utilizing personally, the medically assisted suicide,” said Micallef. But Carey said that is not what this legislation is for, “This bill is for people who are dying and for people who are close to death, given a six-month prognosis.”