New York NDY Activists Occupied Pro-Assisted Suicide Press Conference

This article was published on the Not Dead Yet website on May 12, 2016.

On Tuesday, May 10th, two van loads of disability rights activists from the Center for Disability Rights in Rochester, NY joined with center for independent living advocates from across the state to oppose bills that would legalize assisted suicide.

The activists began by occupying a pro-assisted suicide press conference room, wearing hot pink tshirts and signs that could not be ignored, as reported by NY State of Politics in the following excerpt:

Still, the press conference on Tuesday on the third floor of the Capitol outside of the Senate chambers was attended by opponents of the legislation. Clad in neon pink t-shirts from a coalition of disability rights groups called Not Dead Yet, critics of aid-in-dying policies say it could lead to the cheaper alternative of ending the life of a vulnerable patient rather than caring for them. 
“The bill doesn’t account for that,” said Todd Vaarwerk, a Buffalo resident. “The bill says OK, you can affirmatively do this. We believe people with disabilities will be the primary people affected by this legislation and we’ve got years of evidence to support that.”

The activists also delivered their message outside legislative chambers, as shown in photos.

A local television station in Rochester followed up by interviewing CDR’s Director of Advocacy, Stephanie Woodward, on video for broadcast on May 11.

Victory in New York Court - No right to assisted suicide

This article was published on the Not Dead Yet website on May 3, 2016

A clear and welcome ruling came down Tuesday, May 3rd, from the NY Appellate Division in an assisted suicide case in which NDY filed a friend-of-the-court brief joined by ten other national and state disability organizations. The Court found no constitutional right to assisted suicide. Below is an excerpt from the 36-page decision: 

[P]laintiffs rely on two papers that purport to offer empirical evidence that Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act, now in effect for over 20 years, has not invited the fears articulated by people opposed to aid-in-dying, such as an adverse impact on vulnerable populations, and the difficulty in distinguishing whether a wish to end one’s life is driven by a desire to control one’s death, clinical depression, or something else. However, even were a finder of fact to determine that aid-in-dying is “workable,” the issue before us transcends mere practical concerns. As the Supreme Court stated in Glucksberg, a state’s interest in preserving human life “is symbolic and aspirational as well as practical” (521 US at 729), favorably quoting the New York State Task Force, which observed:

“‘While suicide is no longer prohibited or penalized, the ban against assisted suicide and euthanasia shores up the notion of limits in human relationships. It reflects the gravity with which we view the decision to take one’s own life or the life of another, and our reluctance to encourage or promote these decisions.’ New York Task Force 131-132” (id.).

. . . . We find that, even giving plaintiffs the benefit of every reasonable inference, they have not presented sufficient allegations to suggest that the Penal Law has an implicit carve-out for aid-in-dying, or that, notwithstanding the precedents on the matter, the constitutionality of aid-in-dying is ripe for judicial reconsideration. 

The issue before us unquestionably presents a host of legitimate concerns on both sides of the debate. As discussed above, plaintiffs present some compelling reasons for making aid- in-dying a legitimate option for those suffering from terminal illness. At the same time, the New York State Task Force on Life and the Law in 1994 “unanimously recommend[ed] that New York laws prohibiting assisted suicide and euthanasia should not be changed” (see Task Force, When Death Is Sought: Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia in the Medical Context [May 1994]). The Task Force based its view on the risks that could be presented to the elderly, poor, socially disadvantaged, and those without access to good medical care; and the role of treatable symptoms such as pain and depression in creating a desire for lethal medications. It also noted that most doctors lack a sufficiently close relationship to their patients to appropriately evaluate a request for help in ending life, and expressed the concern that it could open the door to euthanasia of those incapable of giving consent. We are not persuaded from the record before us that, even though society’s viewpoints on a host of social issues have changed over the last 20 years, aid-in-dying is an issue where a legitimate consensus has formed.

Assisted suicide ballot measure introduced in Colorado. We must protect people from assisted suicide

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Recently I wrote an article about the successes in defeating assisted suicide bills in America. Since publisheding the article the Minnesota assisted suicide bill was stopped when its sponsor "pulled the bill" due to insufficient support.

Considering the success in defeating bills that give doctors the right to prescribe suicide to their patients, the suicide lobby has been relentless in pushing their death ideology.

For instance, this year in Colorado, a Senate Committee defeated the assisted suicide bill on February 3, on February 4, then the House Judiciary Committee passed the assisted suicide bill (6 - 5) and on February 24, the sponsors "pulled the bill" because it lacked support.

Now the suicide lobby has introduced a Colorado ballot measure titled: "End of Life Options" for the November 2016 election. The suicide lobby will require almost 99,000 signatures to have this dangerous measure put on the ballot.

At the same time, the sponsor of the California assisted suicide bill, which does not become law until June 9, have introduced two bills to promote assisted suicide in California. The first bill would establish a toll free death line, while the second bill would require the state health plan to pay for assisted suicide.

Assisted suicide bills in New York and the District of Columbia remain as clear threats. While I whole heartedly thank the many concerned people who stopped the suicide lobby in their states, I recognize that we will need to be as relentless as the suicide lobby. 

Even though the suicide lobby were defeated in Colorado, they are now bi-passing the legislative process with a ballot measure. 

We need to be vocal about the dangers of assisted suicide and how giving doctors the right to prescribe suicide to their patients devalues the lives of people at a vulnerable time of their life.

We must protect people from assisted suicide, the future of our culture depends on it.

Diane Coleman: Opposing the New York assisted suicide bill

This article represents one side of the debate between Diane Coleman, the founder of the disability rights group, Not Dead Yet and Dr Timothy Quill, a long-time supporter of assisted suicide that waspublished in the Democrat and Chronicle on February 18, 2016.

Diane Coleman: Opposing the aid in dying bill

“I think there is a very strong alliance of different segments of society that are really concerned about the danger of legalizing assisted suicide from the culture we have today,” Coleman said. “Policy makers have to really consider not only the idealized case that proponents put forward on assisted suicide but the real danger that affects so many elderly, ill and disabled people in this society and be sure that the protection that current law offers are still in place to benefit everyone.”

What are the main concerns of people who are opposed to aid-in-dying legislation?

I don’t think I speak for all (opponents), but the disability community's core message is that if assisted suicide is legal, some people’s lives will be lost due to mistakes, coercion and abuse, and that’s an outcome that can never be undone. 
There’s inherent discrimination in assisted-suicide laws. Most suicidal people receive suicide prevention. Assisted suicide laws would carve out an exception to that, and that exception would apply to people who are elderly, ill, disabled, and those are devalued groups in society. ... Assisted-suicide laws would say, 'these certain people, we’ll not only agree with their suicide but give them the means to carry it out.' We’re saying it comes down to social justice. Equal rights means equal suicide prevention.

Isn’t this a matter of the individual’s right to choose?

We agree that people have the right to refuse life-sustaining treatment. We do think it’s important that that be based on informed consent, that there be protections against health care providers that overrule people who want treatment. We’re also concerned about (a health care proxy) decision being based on the choice of what the person would want if the person were able to speak for themselves. 
You should have the choice to get all the pain relief that you need in order to not have any physical pain. You should have the choice to get all the home care you need so you don’t have to feel like a burden on your family or friends. 
People do have the choice to commit suicide because suicide and assisted suicide are not exactly the same. It’s the discrimination that’s inherent in assisted suicide that is our concern. But assisted suicide needs to remain illegal because of all the dangers the public policy of assisted-suicide creates of mistake, coercion and abuse. We think everyone deserves suicide prevention no matter how old, no matter how ill, no matter how disabled.

Link to the full article

New York Post: Don't pretend its not assisted suicide - at least

This editorial was published by the New York Post on February 15, 2016.

Deceptive names for legislation are nothing new, but this takes the cake.

Introduced by Democrat Amy Paulin in the Assembly and Republican John Bonacic in the state Senate, the bill would make it easier for terminal New York patients to get doctors to give them fatal doses of drugs.

They call it an “aid in dying” bill, but “Assisted Suicide Enhancement Act” is more to the point.

Or “The Streamlining Euthanasia Act.”

Yes, it has some safeguards: To get the deadly dose, the patient must meet with a counselor to show he or she is mentally and emotionally competent to make the fatal decision — which must be witnessed by two others, one of whom vouches to not benefit materially from the death.

New York law has long granted patients the right to refuse extraordinary measures to prolong life. But this is a huge jump — asking health professionals to provide the means to end life, and setting up a system whose abuse could literally mean murder.

It’s well worth debate — we don’t question Paulin or Bonacic’s good motives here. But the bill’s name shouldn’t hide what it’s really about.

Comment: Sadly the bill is worse than the New York Post has stated. The bill does not require a meeting with a counselor.

New York State Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia Bills Are a Recipe for Elder Abuse

Margaret Dore

Margaret Dore

Dore: "Even if you like the concept of assisted suicide and euthanasia, the proposed New York bills have it all wrong.”

Contact: Margaret Dore (206) 697-1217Albany, NY
Attorney Margaret Dore, president of Choice is an Illusion, which has fought assisted suicide legalization efforts in many states and now New York State, made the following statement in connection with a legislative lobby day for proposed bills, which seek to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia.

"There are bills pending before the New York State Legislature, which seek to legalize physician-assisted suicide, assisted suicide and euthanasia as those terms are traditionally defined," said Dore. "The bills are described as 'aid in dying,' but their reach is not limited to dying people. 'Eligible' persons may have years, even decades, to live."

Dore said, "The bills are a recipe for elder abuse. The patient's heir, who will financially benefit from the patient's death, is allowed to actively participate in signing the patient up for the lethal dose. There is no oversight over administration." Dore elaborated, "No doctor, not even a witness, is required to be present at the death. Even if the patient struggled, who would know? The bills create the perfect crime."  

The New York bills seek to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia for people who are "terminal," which is defined as a doctor’s prediction of less than six months to live. In real life, such persons can have years, even decades, to live.

“Doctors can be wrong about life expectancy, sometimes way wrong," Dore said. "This is due to actual mistakes: They evaluated another patient’s test results. More typically, however, doctors are wrong because predicting life expectancy is not an exact science. A few years ago, I was picked up at the airport by a man who at age 18 had been diagnosed with ALS and given 3 to 5 years to live, at which time he was predicted to die by paralysis. The diagnosis had been confirmed by the Mayo Clinic. When he picked me up, he was 74 years old. The disease progression had stopped on its own.”

“If any of the New York bills become law, there will be new lethal paths of elder abuse, which will be legally sanctioned," said Dore. "People with years, even decades to live, will be encouraged to throw away their lives. Even if you like the concept of assisted suicide and euthanasia, the proposed New York bills have it all wrong.”

For more information, see:
1. Memo from Margaret Dore, Esq., MBA, to Members of the New York State Assembly and Senate Health Committees, January 9, 2016, available at: (link)  See back up documentation at: (link).

2.  Margaret K. Dore, "'Death with Dignity': What Do We Advise Our Clients?," King County Bar Association, Bar Bulletin, May 2009 (link).

3.  Nina Shapiro, "Terminal Uncertainty: Washington’s new "Death With Dignity" law allows doctors to help people commit suicide­once they’ve determined that the patient has only six months to live. But what if they’re wrong?" Seattle Weekly, 01/14/09, available at: (link). 

Disabled Lives Are Worth Living!

By Alex Schadenberg, International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC)

The New York Center for Disability Rights is a disability-led service and advocacy organization that works with people with disabilities, of all ages, who live in the community.

The New York Center for Disability Rights is raising money to develop to hire an advocate who will work to organize the disability community response in opposition to assisted suicide in New York and to develop a public awareness campaign.

Link to the Go Fund Me - We Want to Life campaign.

Why does the New York Center for Disability Rights oppose assisted suicide?

Assisted suicide is a deadly expression of ableism -- the belief that people with disabilities are less than non-disabled people. Less worthy of care. Having less dignity. Less worthy of life. These beliefs are all around us. Whether we are old or young, terminal or not terminal, when assisted suicide is legal, these discriminatory beliefs will cause people with disabilities to be killed against their will and without their consent.

Link to the Go Fund Me - We Want to Life campaign.

EPC urges people to support this worthy campaign and to support the important campaigns organized by Not Dead Yet and Toujours Vivant - Not Dead Yet in Canada.