A new poll commissioned by the groups Death With Dignity and the Completed Life Initiative found that a majority of New Yorkers – over 70% – favor legislation that would permit doctors to prescribe terminally ill patients medication to end their own lives.
The poll, conducted at the end of January by YouGov with over 1,000 participants, surveyed New Yorkers’ opinions on the Medical Aid in Dying Act. Advocates have been trying to get the legislation passed for years. According to the poll, 64% of New Yorkers either support or strongly support passing the bill. Another 9% lean towards supporting the proposal, bringing the total number in favor of the bill to 72%. Just 23% of those polled said they oppose, strongly oppose or lean towards opposing Medical Aid in Dying.
Support held across various demographics, including those who identify as Catholic. According to the poll, 65% of Catholics support, strongly support or lean towards supporting the legislation. The Roman Catholic church has been a consistent opponent of the Medical Aid in Dying Act, which it calls “assisted suicide.” Earlier this month, the New York State Catholic Conference – the church’s main lobbying arm – reaffirmed its opposition to the bill. “Rather than assisting suicide, we believe government should be consistent in its efforts to prevent suicide,” the group wrote in a memorandum of opposition, which also called for improved access to palliative and hospice care for terminally ill New Yorkers.
Assembly Member Amy Paulin, the chair of her chamber’s Health Committee and longtime sponsor of the legislation, celebrated the high level of support. “In the many years of fighting for a Medical Aid in Dying bill, support has continued to grow among New Yorkers for this compassionate end-of-life option," Paulin said in a statement. “People have realized that this is a common-sense piece of legislation which preserves the autonomy and dignity of dying New Yorkers during the most vulnerable stage of their lives.” The bill would give patients with fewer than six months to live the option to self-administer life-ending medication prescribed by a doctor.
The poll comes after the New York Bar Association’s governing body voted to back Medical Aid in Dying following the recommendation of a task force it put together to evaluate the bill. If officials approve the legislation, New York would join 10 other states and the District of Columbia in allowing doctors to help terminally ill people to end their own lives.