NY lawmakers debate ‘right to die’ legislation

Posted: Updated:
ALBANY -

State lawmakers in Albany are debating a bill that would allow patients to end their life with medication if two doctors sign off on it.

Several different versions of the bill have been floating around for years. None of them have ever been brought to the floor for a full vote in either the Senate or the Assembly.

The issue hits home for Tom Holochwost, of Hampton Bays. Ten years ago, his 84-year-old mother, Myrle, told her family that she wanted to die after battling pancreatic cancer. Ending her life at the time was, and still is, legally not an option. She eventually died inside a bedroom at his home.

“The last night was the most brutal,” he told News 12. “We were about 12 or 14 feet away listening to my mother die.”

Critics of the “right to die” legislation say they worry about abuse and ethical issues.

"There are no safeguards that work behind closed doors. Bills that put lethal drugs in the home of an old or disabled person are too dangerous to pass," says Diane Coleman, president of the group Not Dead Yet.

The Holochwost family says it should be an option.

“Until you're faced with it, until it's one of your loved ones going through it and you can't provide them what they want to help them, you don't know,” says Tom Holochwost.

According to a Quinnipiac University poll last month, 63 percent of New Yorkers support medical aid in dying.

Similar “right to die” legislation is currently in place in seven states.

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