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Life, Death, and Compassion: A Conversation about Medical Aid in Dying in New York
April 29, 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm
The coronavirus pandemic forced New Yorkers to confront death and dying in ways that none of us would have imagined. The pandemic spurred discussions about life and death issues among family and friends. What death looks like, when it comes, is something far too many of us had to face on a daily basis. These discussions taught us much about what constitutes a good death: being surrounded — and touched — by loved ones, able to say our goodbyes, passing in peace, and free from pain.
COVID-19 robbed many of our loved ones of that good death. But many people whose lives are ravaged by breast cancer, brain cancer, other insidious cancers, heart disease, Parkinson’s, and ALS face tremendous suffering that not even the advanced palliative care available in New York State can allay. A good death may be out of reach for these individuals as well.
Expanding end-of-life care options to allow for medical aid in dying could give a terminally ill person the ability to avoid needless end-of-life suffering. Medical aid in dying, which is authorized in nine states – including our neighbors in Vermont and New Jersey as well as Washington D.C. – allows a terminally ill, mentally capable adult with six months or less to live to request a prescription from their doctor they can take when suffering becomes too great to die peacefully.
This event will explore the topic of medical aid in dying, sometimes called Death with Dignity. State lawmakers in Albany are currently considering whether or not to authorize this option for New Yorkers. Learning about what the legislation would allow and how it has worked in other states will help faith leaders and community leaders develop their own ways of addressing end-of-life issues among their congregants and constituents.