Religious leaders gather to show support for aid in dying legislation

Feb 14, 2017

Reverend Richard Gilbert, a retired minister, speaking in Albany alongside other religious leaders who support aid in dying legislation.
Credit Courtesy Mike Groll

Religious leaders gathered in Albany to show their support for aid in dying legislation. The event was part of a larger campaign advocating for terminally ill patients to have the right to ask for medical assistance to die.

Reverend Richard Gilbert, a retired minister of the First Unitarian Church in Rochester, spoke at the rally.  

“The end of life is a very sensitive issue and religious communities have a very strong interest in this because people turn to their religious community for aid and assistance in trying to figure out what life is all about and how they can face death with dignity,” Gilbert says.

The event was organized by Compassion & Choices, an organization that is campaigning for New York to become the 7th state to legalize aid in dying.

“As a minister of over 55 years, I’ve of course seen many people die, and some tragically, in great pain and despair. A medical aid in dying legislation will provide them with the opportunity to die with dignity at a time of their choosing with their friends and loved ones around,” Gilbert says.

Other denominations, Gilbert says, are not as on board.

“Other denominations are split, but I think if you were to survey the people in the churches and the synagogues and the mosques, you would find a fairly strong majority of people who would like to have the freedom to exercise this right to medical aid in dying,” Gilbert says.

The legislation was reintroduced to the New York legislature last month.