Bill Memos

S.3685, Savino / A.2129-A, Rosenthal; S.5814-A, Bonacic / A.5261-C, Paulin: In relation to legalizing physician-assisted suicide

Memorandum of Opposition

Downloadable PDF version of this memo HERE.

The above-referenced bills 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 these bills for the reasons outlined below. 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.”

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A.8135-B Cahill / S.6013-A Bonacic: In relation to expanding insurance coverage

MEMORANDUM OF OPPOSITION

The above-referenced legislation would expand the federal “Affordable Care Act” in a variety of different ways by requiring increased insurance coverage for contraception, abortion-causing drugs, and voluntary sterilization. The New York State Catholic Conference opposes this measure.

In 2002, New York State lawmakers passed the “Women’s Health and Wellness Act” which requires insurance plans with prescription coverage to cover FDA-approved contraceptive drugs and devices, and provides insufficient protections for religious employers. In 2010, Congress passed the “Affordable Care Act” which expands this coverage by eliminating all co-pays for contraception and covering voluntary sterilization procedures for women.

The legislation now before you would go further still, by mandating that a 12-month supply of contraceptives be covered at one time, and including emergency contraception (EC), the so-called “morning-after pill.” We believe that enabling such large amounts of prescription medication, particularly in such high doses as emergency contraception, to get into the hands of young people is irresponsible and dangerous public policy. More


A.308, Rosenthal: Requiring only one witness to execute a valid health care proxy

Memorandum of Opposition

The above-referenced bill amends the Public Health Law to require only one witness to execute a valid health care proxy in New York State. The current law requires that two witnesses be present.

The New York State Catholic Conference opposes this legislation.

Similar legislation has already been considered and was vetoed in in 2010 by Governor Paterson. In his veto message (veto no. 6788), the Governor stated that “the elimination of the second witness requirement would make it more likely that a person with nefarious motives could forge another’s name and be the sole witness to the forged document,” thus giving the unlawful agent the power to make decisions “on behalf of the patient, including decisions that could result in death.” The present legislation raises the same concerns of fraud and abuse, particularly in regard to the most vulnerable populations. More


S.4615, Lanza / A.4725, 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.6221 Glick / S.4432 Stewart-Cousins: In relation to abortion expansion

Memorandum of Opposition

The above-referenced legislation would embed the US Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade into New York statute, freezing New York law in 1973. It would repeal New York’s current law which allows abortion through 24 weeks of pregnancy (Article 125 Penal Law), but outlaws abortion after that unless necessary to save a woman’s life. In its place, A.6221 / S.4432 would insert a broad health exception, interpreted by the courts not to mean serious physical health impairment, but rather, to include age, economic, social or other emotional factors. It is an exception that will permit unlimited late-term abortion on demand in New York State. More


A.1142-A, Jaffee / S.2709-A, Krueger: In relation to reproductive health care decisions

Memorandum of Opposition

The above-referenced legislation aims to prevent employers – whether private, non-profit, for-profit or religious – from exercising their religious freedom in the businesses they operate. For the reasons outlined below, the New York State Catholic Conference opposes this bill.

The fundamental purpose of this legislation is to remove any possibility of an employer making employment-related decisions based upon their religious beliefs. In the area of “reproductive health decisions,” the bill could therefore have the effect of repealing current protections in New York law (e.g., Executive Law Section 296[11]) that permit religious employers to take employment-related actions based on the religious principles upon which they are established or maintained. More


A.3122, Morelle / S.4701, Savino: In relation to the sale of monuments

Memorandum of Opposition

The above-referenced bill applies to cemeteries organized and operated under the Religious Corporations Law and would prohibit those cemeteries from selling monuments and memorials. The Catholic Conference continues to object to governmental encroachment on the operation of Church-affiliated cemeteries. These cemeteries perform burial services according to the rites and rituals of the Church and, as such, are and should remain outside the purview of governmental intrusion.

The New York State Catholic Conference strongly opposes this legislation. More


A.4311, Moya / S.1251, Peralta: In Relation to New York State DREAM Act

Memorandum of Support

The above-referenced legislation would create the New York DREAM Fund Commission and would provide opportunities for immigrant students who meet certain criteria to be eligible for financial aid to assist them attend institutions of higher education.

The New York State Catholic Conference supports the New York State DREAM Act, and strongly urges enactment of this legislation.

The bill is an attempt to allow young people who have demonstrated a commitment to education and who are of good moral character to access financial aid opportunities without regard to immigration status, and would create a mechanism to raise money for college scholarships for the children of immigrants. Other states have passed similar legislation and New York State, with its history of welcoming immigrants, should be at the forefront of these efforts to support immigrant populations who have contributed so much to the vitality of our state. The chance to earn a higher education degree will allow these immigrant students to realize their potential and make a greater contribution to our economy. More


S.5814, Bonacic / A.5261-B, Paulin: In relation to legalizing physician-assisted suicide

Memorandum of Opposition

S5814 – A5261-B, legalizing physician assisted suicide (PDF version)

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 the reasons outlined below.
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 and 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.”

More


A.2872-A, Markey / S.63-A, Hoylman: In relation to civil claims regarding child sexual abuse

Memorandum of Opposition

The above-referenced bill would create a one-year window for the filing of decades-old claims of sexual abuse by a minor against businesses, not-for-profits and religious organizations. Sexual abuse is a crime and a detestable assault on the dignity of the human person, made even worse when the victim is a child. The Catholic Church in the United States has zero tolerance for sexual abuse of children, and the Bishops of New York State stand in unanimous and unwavering support of comprehensive public policy to prevent sexual abuse, punish offenders effectively and fairly, and ensure justice for survivors. Sexual abuse is a human tragedy, a major social problem, a serious crime and an egregious sin. Our entire community shares a moral obligation to expose and eradicate this evil wherever it exists.

We strongly disagree, however, with both the focus of this legislation and its selective application. For this reason, the New York State Catholic Conference opposes it. More