Backers of Aid in Dying bill say there are enough votes to pass, but full vote remains uncertain
Supporters of a state bill that would legally give terminally ill people the option to end their lives at the time of their choosing said Tuesday that they have enough votes in the Legislature to approve the bill.
Now, they said, they just need the Democratic leaders in the Senate and Assembly to agree to put the measure — known as Medical Aid in Dying — on the floor for a vote.
Senate sponsor Brad Hoylman-Sigal said at a rally Tuesday that he can’t confirm that a vote will occur in his house, but he’s hopeful it can be approved.
“This is an important bill, this is a vote of conscience," he said. "I think that we will make headway. And I think you might be surprised what happens in the next few days.”
Assembly Health Committee Chair Amy Paulin, who watched her sister suffer a painful death from cancer, has sponsored the bill for eight years. She is also asking for a vote on the measure on the Assembly floor before the session ends on Friday.
“We still have three days, it's the longest three days of our life," Paulin said. "But we still do that. But we have three days, nothing is impossible."
Opponents, including some advocacy groups for people with disabilities, said they fear the measure could be abused.
Alex Thompson with the New York Association of Independent Living said people with disabilities are sometimes misdiagnosed by doctors. He said he worries that could lead some to take their own lives based on an inaccurate prognosis.
“One of the major issues is that it puts the lives of people with disabilities at risk," Thompson said. "And a lot of the discussion around the issue kind of overlooks the impact on people with disabilities.”
Supporters said there are safeguards in the bill to prevent that from happening.