Medical professionals gathered at the state capitol to lobby against assisted-suicide at a press conference held on the staircase outside the Senate Lobby
Medical professionals gathered at the state capitol to lobby against assisted-suicide at a press conference held on the staircase outside the Senate Lobby
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Dozens of doctors, nurses and medical professionals gathered at the State Capitol on Tuesday, Feb. 4, to stand against the legalization of physician-assisted suicide in New York.

The state’s pending legislation (S.3947/ A.2694) has been met with opposition from both the Medical Society of the State of N.Y. and the American Medical Association. The New York State Catholic Conference has also long stood against assisted-suicide, as well. 

A press conference was held at 12:30 p.m. outside the Senate Lobby where medical professionals gave testimonies and shared personal stories demonstrating why the legislation is bad public policy. 

Kristen Hanson, an advocate for the Patient’s Rights Action Fund, a national organization opposed to the legalization of assisted suicide, opened the press conference with her own story: Her husband, J.J. Hanson, died of terminal brain cancer in 2017 after fighting to live his life as long as possible, even when doctors ensured he had months to live. 

J.J. Hanson lived 3 1/2 years after his initial diagnosis, “but if assisted suicide was legal at the time, J.J. could have had lethal drugs with him during” his darkest of times, said Hanson. 

“Thankfully, J.J. didn’t end his life. But he said if he had suicide pills with him, he might have taken them. And you can’t undo that.”

Dr. Matthew Lynch, a neurologist from the Gloversville/Johnstown area, said that while the legislation is sold as a last resort, that is not the case. 

“This proposed law does not require a person to try hospice or palliative care before receiving a prescription for suicide pills,” Dr. Lynch said. “In fact, this bill does not even require a person to be suffering in any way.” 

Many of the doctors expressed numerous concerns with the bill, including: a lack of mental health evaluation before providing a prescription, no requirement for a doctor or nurse to be present when the lethal dose is ingested, and how it’s passing could dangerously impact the isolated, elderly and those living with disabilities. 

“New Yorkers and legislators should ask themselves this question - if an insurer can save money by nudging patients to choose doctor-assisted suicide over an expensive alternative therapy for severe or terminal illness, why would an insurer help a patient to choose the expensive alternative,” said Dr. Gregory Weston, infectious disease physician from the Bronx. 

“This is why we urge the legislators of New York to address the real need for improvement in end of life care,” added Dr. Weston. “Doctor-assisted suicide is the wrong solution to a difficult and complex problem - we need to work toward a better solution.”