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Letter: Albany must face end of life choices

For some, medical aid in dying is a better option...There are no reasonable grounds for preventing mentally competent, terminally ill adults from exercising this choice.

For some, medical aid in dying is a better option…There are no reasonable grounds for preventing mentally competent, terminally ill adults from exercising this choice.

– David Leven,

Published in The Buffalo News on August 18, 2020.

The excellent July 29 Another Voice: “Terminally ill New Yorkers need a peaceful dying option” by Jennifer Milich and Deborah Stern discusses many reasons why the terminally ill should have the option of medical aid in dying when suffering becomes unbearable, and why the New York State Legislature should act promptly to pass the Medical Aid in Dying Act.

In addition, medical aid in dying laws have worked as intended in other states without problems emerging that opponents expected.

Only about four of 1,000 deaths are the result of medical aid in dying. The vast majority of patients are enrolled in hospice, which indicates that even hospice, which provides excellent end of life care, is not enough for all who are dying.

Moreover, there is no evidence of a disproportionate impact on vulnerable populations, the poor, elderly, people of color or people with disabilities.

In states which have medical aid in dying laws there have been no serious efforts to rescind them. Patients may now end their lives by other ways which hasten their deaths, including never starting or stopping life sustaining treatment, voluntarily stopping eating and drinking or by palliative sedation.

For some, medical aid in dying is a better option. It should be available to people like Milich and Stern in case they might want to end their suffering using this peaceful option. There are no reasonable grounds for preventing mentally competent, terminally ill adults from exercising this choice.

David Leven

Executive Director Emeritus

Senior Consultant

End of Life Choices New York

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