ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — A bill at the New York State Capitol would allow terminally ill patients to choose when they die with the assistance of a doctor, but it’s an issue that has New Yorkers strongly divided.
Cathy Quinn fought a tough battle with tongue cancer. Her boyfriend, Scott Barraco, said she endured a lot in order to stay alive.
“Lots of surgeries and procedures and tracheotomy and feeding tubes,” he said.
But then there was nothing else doctors could do.
“What she really wanted to do was die peacefully and on her own terms,” he said. “She didn’t want to be subject to cancer dictating how she died. She didn’t want to be taken away from her home.”
Cathy didn’t get the ending she had hoped for. She died on June 25, 2014 at the age of 44 in a hospice facility after a two-year battle with the illness.
“If Medical Aid in Dying had been available, it would have been a much different experience for her,” Barraco said.
Now, he is supporting legislation to allow terminaly ill patients to request and use medication to end their life.
The Medical Aid in Dying Act would allow a terminally ill person to say to their doctor, ‘If there is no cure left, if there’s nothing you can do to reserve this terminal illness, and if you can do nothing more to make me comfortable, I’d like a prescription for medication that I can take at a time of my choosing or never should my suffering become unbearable.’
Opponents, however, said the bill is “wrongfully named.”
A statement from New York State Right to Life says in part:
“…At a time when suicide is a significant public health concern and suicide among some populations is at crisis levels, legislators should not consider turning our physicians and other healers into those who offer, imply as acceptable, or assist in self-imposed death…”
Similar legislation has passed in New Jersey.