MEDICAL SOCIETY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK
865 Merrick Avenue, Westbury, New York 11590-9007
Telephone: (516) 488-6100
For Immediate Release
President of Medical Society Testifies Before Assembly Committee on Health on “Medical Aid in Dying”
“Physicians Should Preserve Life, Not End Life”
April 23, 2018, Westbury, NY—Dr. Thomas J. Madejski, President of the Medical Society of the State of New York (MSSNY), testified today before the Assembly Committee on Health regarding Medical Aid in Dying.
Assembly Bill 2383A would permit a terminally ill patient to request medication from a physician to be self-administered for the purpose of hastening the patient’s death. Until such time as the law changes, aid in dying or assisted suicide by a physician is still illegal in New York State. The New York Court of Appeals September 7, 2017 Myers v Schneiderman decision reaffirms this.
The Medical Society recently polled physicians to get their perspectives on this very complicated and controversial issue. A large majority indicated that such a measure could have a negative impact on healthcare among racial/ethnic minorities and the physically disabled patient. Equally troubling, were physicians concerns that such a measure would have a negative impact on trust between the physician and patients.
Based on the preliminary analysis of the survey results, it is not likely that MSSNY will change its position on this matter any time soon.
Excerpts from Dr. Madejski’s Testimony
First and foremost, I believe that we need to create an environment that eliminates the desire for a patient to contemplate ending their life, due to fear of inadequate care at the end of life. Equally troubling, were physicians concerns that such a measure would have a negative impact on trust between the physician and patients.
This is a very complicated and controversial issue within our membership. There are passionate physicians on both sides making well-reasoned arguments. MSSNY’s long-standing position against “aid in dying” is based upon the sacred principle that physicians are dedicated to healing and preserving life, not ending it.
Although relief of suffering has always been a fundamental duty in medical practice, relief of suffering through shortening of life has not. Moreover, the social and societal implications of such a fundamental change cannot be fully contemplated.
Most physicians are deeply troubled by the potential abandonment of a patient by their physician at their time of greatest need of their physician’s skill and caring. Although the proposed legislation requires two physicians to certify a patient, prognostication, particularly with regards to time left before death is one of our most difficult assessments.
MSSNY is committed to work with physicians and groups on both sides of this difficult question to continue to improve the access to and the quality of palliative care for all of our patients, particularly in our last days.
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About the Medical Society of the State of New York
Founded in 1807, the Medical Society of the State of New York is the state’s principal non-profit professional organization for physicians, residents and medical students of all specialties. Its mission is to represent the interests of patients and physicians to assure quality healthcare services for all.
Medical Society of the State of New York
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