A New Disgrace in Albany

The appalling New York government never fails to disappoint in its ability to be shameless. This time, it’s not just a matter of their reprehensible ethics. Now it is literally a matter of life and death.

With no prior public notice or advance warning, the long-time anti-life Chair of the Assembly Health Committee, Dick Gottfried, has scheduled a committee vote on the recently-introduced physician-assisted suicide bill. This was learned on Friday afternoon, and the vote is scheduled for Monday. The committee meeting has been called “off the floor,” which means that nobody in the public will have any idea ahead of time where or when it will take place. It’s a stealth meeting on an issue of monentous importance.

This is an outrageous abuse of power. The issue of assisted suicide is deeply controversial and highly complex. If it is going to be considered by the Legislature, it demands a full and extensive debate, with all sides having a chance to be heard. Evidence needs to be considered, the moral arguments have to be heard, and a careful weighing must be made of the consequences for the public good.

That, of course, is a nice ideal, but it surely is not the way the New York Legislature does things. Instead, this kind of legislative skullduggery is a violation of every principle of good government and fundamental fairness. Even if it is not a technical violation of New York’s Open Meeting Law, it surely violates it’s spirit and intention. Those who are most at risk in this area — elderly and disabled people — are being betrayed by those who are supposed to represent them.

If the bill’s supporters are so sure of the merits of their argument, why are they resorting to such a sneaky tactic? Could it be that their arguments have now been rejected unanimously by two New York courts, and they realize that the more people learn about assisted suicide, the more they are leery about legalizing it?

New York’s government is notoriously dysfunctional, and deserves its reputation as one of the worst in the country. This latest maneuver brings it to an even more disgraceful low point. The Assembly leadership should feel ashamed — if they’re even capable of it.

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