In New York, the momentum to pass the Medical Aid in Dying Act continues as the number of sponsors of the bill, A. 2694, S. 3947, continues to grow. There are now over 40 sponsors in the NYS Assembly and 14 sponsors in the NYS Senate, including many legislators of color. We are very encouraged even though we do not think the bill will be passed this year.
The bill in Massachusetts to authorize medical aid in dying moved a step closer to passage after the Joint Committee on Public Health approved it at the end of May by a vote of 11 to 6. The bill was originally introduced by Rep. Louis L. Kafka in 2011. More than seven out of 10 Massachusetts voters (71%) support medical aid in dying, according to a 2013 poll. Passage would bring medical aid in dying to the 6.9 million Massachusetts residents.
Please help get the bill enacted by contacting family, friends, and anyone you know in Mass. Urge them to contact their legislators, and call on them to support a floor vote by the House and Senate on ‘The End of Life Options Act’ (H.1926, S.2745) by July 31st.
Last year, not long after the New Jersey medical aid in dying (MAID) law became effective, a lawsuit was filed challenging the constitutionality of the law on numerous grounds.
The New Jersey Superior Court has dismissed the lawsuit finding that the plaintiffs lacked judicial standing to bring the case. It held that the law “only applies to the patients and providers that elect to participate.” Since the plaintiffs choose not to participate, the MAID law “does not harm or affect them…” The court reviewed and dismissed all eleven counts of their complaint.
While acknowledging that a non-participating provider must “transfer a qualifying patient’s records”, the court ruled that does not amount to “participation” under the MAID law. Rather it concluded that obligation is “minimally burdensome” and “does not emanate from the Act itself but rather from a separate provision of the State’s laws.”
In its ruling, the court also stated, “Here, the State has a legitimate interest, perhaps even a compelling interest, in establishing a safe and effective procedure for qualified terminally ill patients to experience a humane and dignified death … Plaintiffs do not have a reasonable probability of success on the merits of any of their claims … Accordingly, the Court dismisses the complaint with prejudice.”
Several conservative Democrats were defeated in primaries, including some opposed to medical aid in dying in June, replaced by more progressive Democrats. There is now optimism that there may be enough votes in 2021 to pass their medical aid in dying bill.
We will keep you informed of new developments.
In the meantime, please support our work at End of Life Choices New York by making a generous donation. You can do so by clicking the donate button below or mailing a check made payable to End of Life Choices New York to 244 Fifth Avenue, Suite 2010, New York, NY 10001.
David C. Leven
Executive Director Emeritus and Senior Consultant