Medical Aid in Dying

Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities are, first and foremost, citizens, and are entitled to all the fundamental rights, both explicit and implied, that are guaranteed and enjoyed by all people under federal and state laws. Therefore, The Arc New York asserts that any rights included in any laws legalizing medical aid in dying should be guaranteed to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

It is The Arc New York’s position that:

Mentally competent adults capable of making decisions for themselves who are dying of a terminal illness (typically 6 months or less to live) should have the option to obtain a prescription from their physician for medication if end-of-life suffering becomes unbearable so they can bring about a peaceful death. 

  • Additional protections must be in place for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, beyond requiring two physicians to sign off and a mental health referral if mental capacity is in doubt. 
  • Prior to providing a prescription medication, physicians should be required to confirm that terminally ill, mentally competent adults are fully informed about all end-of-life options, including comfort care, hospice care, pain control, and medical aid in dying. 
  • Giving mentally competent, terminally ill adults the choice to end their own life is the same as allowing competent, terminally ill adults the choice to decline other treatments, like CPR, intubation, and artificial nutrition. 
  • The wishes of mentally competent adults who have clearly and competently expressed them should be honored by caregivers and health care providers. 
  • All persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities are valuable and deserve respect consistent with human dignity throughout their life. The value of a person’s life is not related to the type, degree, or severity of disability. 
  • The personal autonomy, liberty, freedom, and dignity of each individual with intellectual and developmental disabilities must be respected and supported. 
Adopted October 27, 2017 at The Arc New York Board of Governors Meeting