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Why won’t Sen. Stec talk about the medical aid in dying bill?

To the editor:

On Friday, May 7, a group of local health professionals and other interested parties had arranged to have a half-hour discussion with Sen. Dan Stec about the medical aid in dying legislation which continues to languish in both houses of the New York legislature. This legislation is modeled after Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act, which was enacted in 1997 and since has been adopted by nine other states and D.C. It would allow New Yorkers with mental capacity, a terminal illness (verified by two doctors) and a prognosis of less than six months to live the ability to request a prescription for medication from their physician which they could take (or not) to peacefully end their lives should suffering become unbearable. The legislation has numerus safeguards and protections, and there have been no instances of abuse or coercion in the 60-plus state years of experience.

The group had contacted the senator’s office, and a Zoom meeting was arranged. He selected the date and time. Four members of the group had carefully prepared presentations and were poised to answer any questions from the senator. This legislation is widely supported among health professionals (67% of New York doctors, according to a 2019 Medscape survey) and people across the political, geographic, ethnic and religious spectrum (70% of Catholics supported it in a 2016 National LifeWay survey). This legislation is held up in the Health Committee of the New York Senate, of which Sen. Stec is a member, but he has been conspicuously mum about this topic. Sen. Stec’s constituents have a right to know where he stands on this important legislation. Does he support it or oppose it? Why?

We were disappointed, but not surprised, that Sen. Stec was a no-show for the meeting which had been scheduled at his convenience. Why will he not meet with his constituents to discuss this widely supported legislation? What is he afraid of?

Jay Federman, MD

Phyllis Magnus, social worker

Peggy Wiltberger, RN

Michael Sinclair, MD

Mary Abendroth, RN

Phyllis Sinclair, RN

Saranac Lake

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