Lobby for Life Day — Standing Up for the Medically Vulnerable

Liz O'Brien, Jeanmarie Grahn, and Judy Murray from Rockland Right to Life outside the Senate Chamber in Albany at Lobby for Life Day.

Liz O’Brien, Jeanmarie Grahn, and Judy Murray from Rockland Right to Life outside the Senate Chamber in Albany at Lobby for Life Day.

Opposing legislation to legalize physician-assisted suicide in New York and a separate package of bills that would deny treatment to the medically vulnerable received top priority at New York Right to Life’s Lobby for Life Day, held at the Capitol in Albany on April 29.

Over 250 prolifers from all around New York State came to a rally at the state house and to meet with their legislators about the dangerous implications of these bills.

Rockland Right to Life was represented by Liz O’Brien, chairperson, of Upper Nyack; Jeanmarie Grahn, secretary, of New City,  and member Judy Murray, also of New City. They discussed the legislation with the two senators representing Rockland, Sen. Bill Larkin (R-SD 39) and Sen. David Carlucci (D-SD 38).

The rally at “The Well” featured Burke Balch, JD, director of the National Right to Life center for medical ethics; RN Nora Flores, who recounted the story of her son Alexander, born with Trisomy 13, and her struggle with the physicians who had decided his life just wasn’t worth saving; Bishop Edward Scharfenberger, leader of the Diocese of Albany; and Jean Head, National Right to Life Delegate to the United Nations.

Unlike past Lobby for Life Days, which focused on abortion issues, the emphasis this year was on the threat of denial of end-of-life care for the terminally ill and the developmentally disabled. This was prompted by the two bills which have been referred to the Senate Health Committee: the “New York End-of-Life Options Act” (S3685), and “Surrogate Decision-Making Improvement Acts” (S4791, S4794, S4795, and S4796).

The “End-of-Life Options Act” would allow physician-assisted suicide. Doctors could legally prescribe “aid-in-dying medication” for patients who are terminally ill and want to hasten their deaths. The bill does not require a waiting period and there is no residency requirement, meaning that a patient could come from anywhere to be killed by a doctor in New York.

The badly named “Surrogate Decision-Making Improvment Act” would actually weaken the rights of patients and their surrogates to make decisions about end-of-life care by:

  • Authorizing physicians to impose Do Not Resuscitate orders without patient or surrogate input
  • Empowering physicians to override family direction for treatment by claiming they know what the patient would have wanted
  • Weakening the requirement of parental notice before an emancipated minor child is denied care

Please learn more about these issues that could  truly mean life or death for us and our loved ones. You may want to check out:

Ed Mechman’s life-affirming blog post: Life Is Worth Living, Even When You’re Terminally Ill. Ed is the public policy director of the Archdiocese of New York’s Family Life/Respect Life Office.

More on Trisomy 13: Doctors Decided This Baby’s Life Wasn’t Worth Saving. Now a Missouri Legislator Wants to Make Sure It Will Never Happen Again and Newsweek‘s Joe Klein’s remarks about how he was forced to rethink his position on the value of the lives of the developmentally disabled by former Sen. Rick Santorem’s daughter, Bella, who has Trisomy 13 — His Daughter’s Smile.

And if you’re Catholic — or even if you’re not: Now and at the Hour of Our Death — Catholic Guidance for End-of-Life Decision Making