Members of Chayim Aruchim advocating for changes to the Palliative Care Act in Albany in April.
L to R: Assembly Member Steven Cymbrowitz, Rabbi Shmuel Lefkowitz, Agudath Israel's Vice President for Community Affairs, Rabbi Gedaliah Weinberger, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Rabbi Mordechai Biser, Esq., General Counsel, Dr. Yashar Hirshaut, noted New York oncologist, Assemblyman Richard Gotfried, Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder, and Abe Eisner, an officer of Agudath Israel.
Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Palliative Care Act into Law. Agudath Israel of America, which advocated strongly for its passage, hailed this vital amendment to the state's Public Health Law, which ensures that patients in the end stages of life will be informed of all their options, including their right to ongoing medical treatments as well as palliative care.
Under the earlier version of the law, health care providers were only required to inform terminally ill patients of their right to palliative care -not of the option of ongoing, aggressive medical treatment of their condition.
The amended version of the law now requires all of the options to be discussed with the patient. The option of aggressive treatment to sustain life for as long as possible must be presented to each patient. With the passage of this law, the patient can consult with his rabbi and opt for the halachically mandated course of action.
The newly amended law will deliver the message to health practitioners that there is more than one option for patients facing terminal illness, and will ensure that patients are given a choice of medical care that respects their culture and religious and personal beliefs.
Agudath Israel thanked Governor Andrew Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, NYS Senator Kemp Hannon, Chairman of the Senate Health Committee, and NYS Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, Chairman of the Assembly Health Committee, for their support; Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder for shepherding this bill through the legislative process; and Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz for helping bring this issue to attention of the legislature.