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New York lawmakers introduce assisted suicide bill

Lisa Bourne Lisa Bourne Follow Lisa

ALBANY, New York, May 10, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Lawmakers in New York introduced a bill today allowing physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill individuals in the state.

Modeled after Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act, the Medical Aid in Dying Act was announced this morning at the New York Senate chambers during a rally for the measure, ABC News10 reports. The gathering was attended by both supporters and opponents of the law. The proposed legislation combines two pairs of companion bills.

According to the bill:

  • Only qualified, terminally ill and mentally capable adults can receive life-ending drugs, and confirmation of a terminal prognosis is required from two doctors;
  • Patients must be referred to a mental health professional for evaluation if either doctor deems it necessary;
  • Two witnesses must declare that the request for life-ending drugs is voluntary;
  • Involved physicians are protected from civil or criminal liability and from professional disciplinary action;
  • Participation by doctors is completely voluntary;
  • Criminal law prosecution is allowed in the law for coercing or forging a request.

It also guarantees that life insurance benefits cannot be denied to families of individuals who make use of the law.

The widower of Brittany Maynard, the terminally ill woman at the center of a controversial euthanasia debate prior to her 2014 suicide, had lobbied in February before the state’s lawmakers to pass assisted suicide legislation, telling the press he was honoring his promise to his deceased wife. Family advocates cautioned at the time against making laws based on emotion.

Introduction of the assisted suicide law follows on the heels of an appeals court ruling last week finding that there was no right to assisted suicide in the state. Plaintiffs in the case have indicated they will appeal to the New York Supreme Court.

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