By Denis Slattery | New York Daily News
ALBANY — Gov. Cuomo encouraged state lawmakers Tuesday to pass a bill that would allow terminally ill patients to request life-ending medication.
Legislation currently being considered by the state Senate and Assembly would authorize physicians to prescribe lethal medications to patients who would be required to administer them without assistance.
“I say pass the bill,” Cuomo told WAMC’s Alan Chartock. “It’s a controversial issue, it’s a difficult issue. But the older we get and the better medicine gets the more we’ve seen people suffer for too too long.”
New Jersey lawmakers passed a similar medical aid-in-dying measure last month. Seven other states currently have a statute safeguarding physician-assisted death.
State Sen. Diane Savino (D-Staten Island), the lead sponsor of the bill, said she felt like Cuomo’s comments came from a personal place.
“I think the governor was not speaking necessarily as the governor, he was speaking as a person who has experienced loss in his own life, just like we all have and that’s what compelled me to get involved in this,” she told the Daily News. “You know we’ve both seen people we love suffer toward the end of life and realize that what people want is to be surrounded by their family members and have some control over their final days.”
Previous efforts to pass stalled with Republicans controlling the state Senate and opposition from the Catholic Church.
Dennis Poust, a spokesman for the state Catholic Conference headed by Timothy Cardinal Dolan, said the group is “obviously distressed” by the governor’s comments on the measure.
Cuomo and state lawmakers have already taken several steps this sessions that have been met by opposition from the Church, including strengthening and expanding abortion rights and passing the Child Victims Act
Poust said Catholic leaders are fearful that the right-to-die bill would set a dangerous precedent.
“We are obviously distressed by the governor’s comments and deeply concerned for the implications for patients who are experiencing depression or who feel family or financial pressure to end their lives,” Poust said. “Beyond that, passage of this bill would send a dangerously romanticized pro-suicide message at a time of increasing suicide rates, particularly among young people.”
Proponents, on the other hand, were happy to hear Cuomo express support and noted that many supporters of the measure are themselves Catholic.
“The leadership of the Catholic Church has been opposed to this,” said Corinne Carey, the New York campaign director for Compassion & Choices. “But the majority of Catholics support it. And I think that’s what lawmakers are looking to, that’s what lawmakers know as Catholics themselves, that this is a choice that we have.”
This story originally appeared on https://www.nydailynews.com/