Bill Memos

Re: A.10059, Paulin / S.7579, Savino: In relation to legalizing physician-assisted suicide

Memorandum of Opposition

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The above-referenced bill would add a new section of the Public Health Law to allow physicians to prescribe lethal doses of medication for the express purpose of ending a patient’s life.

The New York State Catholic Conference opposes this bill for many reasons.

This newly-revised legislation contains many of the same fatal flaws contained in previous versions:

  • it does not require screening, testing, or treatment for clinical depression;
  • it requires a physician to falsify the death certificate to list the underlying illness as the cause of death;
  • it similarly encourages insurance fraud by allowing beneficiaries to collect benefits following a suicide; and
  • it encourages suicide “tourism” by allowing non-NYS residents to access physician-assisted suicide.

Moreover, on May 3, 2016, the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court ruled in the case of Myers vs. Schneiderman, declaring that New York’s statutory ban on assisted suicide has plain meaning and clear language; there is no “carve-out” for medical reasons in assisting a suicide. Furthermore, the Court said there is a “rational” and “fundamental” difference between refusing life-saving medical treatment and receiving lethal drugs intended to cause death.

Legalizing physician-assisted suicide would:

  • Blur longstanding medical, moral and legal distinctions between withdrawing extraordinary medical assistance and taking active steps to destroy human life. One lets people die a natural death; the other is the deliberate and direct act of hastening death.
  • Undermine the physician’s role as healer, forever alter the doctor-patient relationship, and lessen the quality of care provided to patients at the end of life. Patients are best served when medical professionals, together with families and loved ones, provide support and care with dignity and respect, not lethal doses of drugs. The American Medical Association holds a policy position against physician-assisted suicide, which they say is “fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role” and would be “difficult or impossible to control.”
  • Lead to psychological, financial and other pressures for vulnerable persons to end their lives. In today’s era of health care rationing and cost-cutting, physician-assisted suicide could easily rise to the level of the most acceptable, and even expected, “treatment” for terminal illness. In 1994, Governor Mario Cuomo’s Task Force on Life & the Law released a report unanimously rejecting assisted suicide, and cautioned:

“No matter how carefully any guidelines are framed, assisted suicide and euthanasia will be practiced through the prism of social inequality and bias that characterizes the delivery of services in all segments of society, including health care. The practices will pose the greatest risks to those who are poor, elderly, members of a minority group or without access to good medical care. The growing concern about health care costs increases the risks. This cost consciousness will not be diminished, and may well be exacerbated, by health care reform.”

Rather than assisting suicide, government should be consistent in its efforts to prevent suicide. It is illogical for the state to promote/facilitate suicide for one group of persons — calling the suicides of those with a terminal illness and a specific prognosis “dignified and humane,” while recognizing suicide as a serious statewide public health concern in all other circumstances, and spending enormous resources to combat it.

We urge the state to remove barriers and improve access to palliative care and hospice care for those in the final stages of terminal illness. Improved education and training of physicians in pain management, together with appropriate diagnosis and treatment for depression, would go a long way toward eliminating calls for suicide among the sick and the dying.

We strongly urge you to oppose this bill.

A.9773, Markey / S.7181, Lanza: In relation to extending provisions for resale of tickets

Memorandum of Support

The New York State Catholic Conference supports the above-mentioned legislation which seeks to extend the existing statute on the resale of tickets.

Catholic schools, as well as other independent and religious schools and countless not-for-profit organizations, regularly engage in fund-raising events for what is often a significant part of their operating budgets. One very popular source of income is the raffling of tickets to athletic and entertainment events. These tickets, which have been donated by benefactors, have always been a popular item sought by parents, family members, and other supporters of the non-profit.

Changes in law over the last 10 years have provided consumers with protections once not afforded to average ticket buyers. Among a number of important consumer protections, the current law clarifies that the holder of the ticket (and not the venue or team sponsoring the event) is the owner of that ticket. This provides ticket holders the freedom to give the ticket away, resell the ticket on any platform they choose or donate the ticket to their favorite charity.  More

S.7296, Holyman / A.9877, Markey: In relation to civil and criminal changes to the statute of limitations in cases of child sexual abuse

Memorandum of Opposition

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The Catholic Church has zero tolerance for sexual abuse and supports proposals in the New York State Legislature to extend the time allowed under the law to file criminal charges or civil lawsuits against those who abuse children.

Sexual abuse is a societal scourge. It knows no boundaries. Protecting children from sexual abuse and safeguarding the legal rights of victims requires a comprehensive approach. Proposals that would permit only some survivors more time to sue abusers based on meaningless distinctions like where the abuser worked or where the abuse took place offend common sense and fairness. Abuse is abuse, no matter whom the abuser is, no matter where the abuse occurs.

While the Catholic Conference strongly supports efforts to prospectively increase the criminal and civil statute of limitations for child sexual abuse, the above-referenced legislation is seriously flawed in that it contains a statute of limitations “window” to open up previously time-barred civil claims going back indefinitely. Therefore, the Catholic Conference must strongly oppose this legislation. More

A.9627, Cusick: In relation to the New York State Child Protection Act of 2016

Memorandum of Support

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The above-referenced bill is an omnibus child protection initiative designed to protect children from sexual abuse, and to allow existing and future survivors of such abuse a longer opportunity to seek justice in both criminal and civil courts. The New York State Catholic Conference strongly supports this bill.

By eliminating the criminal statute of limitations for the prosecution of certain sex offenses, the bill enables prosecutors to hold abusers accountable for crimes committed now and in the future, bringing unprecedented new protections to victims of child sexual crimes. In addition, this bill extends the time for civil claims to be brought by survivors of child sexual abuse until they are 28 years old, thereby ensuring victims have sufficient time to hold abusers civilly accountable for their actions. Importantly, notice of claim requirements are amended under this bill to ensure that victims of child sexual abuse are able to bring civil claims against all abusers, including those employed by municipal entities. Unlike some other bills before the legislature, all victims are treated equally under this bill. More

S.1291, Espaillat / A.4762, Nolan: In relation to the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act

Memorandum of Support

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The above-referenced legislation would address a number of the exemptions in New York’s labor, public health and workers compensation laws that currently prevent farmworkers from accessing rights and privileges available to other workers in New York State.

The New York State Catholic Conference supports the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act, and strongly urges enactment of this legislation.

Farmworkers are excluded from many of the laws that establish worker protections, including overtime pay, employer contributions to the unemployment and workers’ compensation funds, and public health protections including sanitation and housing standards.  In addition to ending these exclusions, this bill would require that farmworkers be given a 24-hour day of rest in every calendar week which, whenever possible, would coincide with the laborer’s traditional day for religious worship. More

S.24-A, DeFrancisco / A.1131-A, Perry: In relation to establishing the Commission on Prosecutorial Conduct

Memorandum of Support

The above-referenced legislation would establish the Commission on Prosecutorial Conduct.  This Commission would be modeled after the State Commission on Judicial Conduct and would establish acceptable standards and reasonable accountability for prosecutors as they carry out their duties and responsibilities.

The New York State Catholic Conference supports the establishment of the State Commission on Prosecutorial Conduct, and strongly urges enactment of this legislation. More

S.4615-A, Lanza / A.4725-A, Colton: In relation to teacher tax deduction for school supplies

Memorandum of Support

The above-referenced bill provides a personal income tax deduction up to $500 a year for school supplies paid for out of-pocket by elementary and secondary school teachers, principals and other personnel in public and non-public schools.

The New York State Catholic Conference supports this legislation. More

A.6583, Fitzpatrick: In relation to state payments for human eggs

Memorandum of Support

This legislation would prevent the exploitation and undue inducement of vulnerable low-income New York women by ending the egg harvesting payment policy of the Empire State Stem Cell Board. This practice has no health benefit for the women involved and may result in serious health consequences for them, as the long-term risks of hormonal stimulation are unknown. The New York State Catholic Conference supports this legislation. More

A.6566, Fitzpatrick: In relation to the “Human Cloning Prohibition Act”

Memorandum of Support

The above-referenced bill would completely and comprehensively prohibit human cloning or “somatic cell nuclear transfer,” both for “reproductive” purposes and for so-called “therapeutic” purposes.

The New York State Catholic Conference supports this legislation. More

A.7239, Brabenec: In relation to NYS real property tax exemption laws

Memorandum of Opposition

The above referenced bill comprises a broad attempt to alter the state’s real property tax exemption laws, and would have a dramatic impact on the way exemptions are granted and renewed.

The New York State Catholic Conference opposes this legislation on the grounds that the limitations contained therein would diminish the constitutionally guaranteed rights of religious institutions. More