On Monday, May 23, the Assembly Health Committee has scheduled a vote on the physician assisted suicide bill. Usually, bill sponsors bring a bill for a vote if they think they have the votes to pass it. The bill is A10059 and is a new bill combining two previous versions. Assemblywoman Amy Paulin is the sponsor along with Senator Diane Savino.
Private tallies show the vote to be very close, perhaps within a vote or two. At least three members of the 26 member committee are considered to be undecided. At least four Democrats on the committee are known to be opposed with one other feeling that the bill needs more study and review. One Republican, Janet Duprey, is a co-sponsor of the bill. She was recently added to the Health Committee. Even if the bill passes the committee, it is considered unlikely to be brought to the floor for a vote this year. Its floor chances are uncertain since many Hispanic and African American legislators are known to be opposed.
Disabled groups and the coalition opposed are upset that the bill is being voted on “off the floor.” As the session winds down, many of the committees do so, meeting outside the Assembly chamber. This process though is not as accessible or transparent. Sometimes the exact time and place of these meetings are quickly called with little chance for the public to know. There will likely be a lively debate.
The New York State Catholic Conference, New Yorkers for Constitutional Rights, the New York Hospice and Palliative Care Association, the Medical Society of the State of New York and the several disabled groups including Not Dead Yet are against the bill. The umbrella coalition opposing the bill is the Patients Rights Action Fund.
I believe the fact that this bill is being brought up so quickly just shows that the coalition support it and the bill sponsors are trying to show some progress in New York, the year after California passed the bill. They seem to be more interested in providing the suicide option than making sure that hospice and palliative care are fully utilized and promoted.