A candle lighting ceremony was held Wednesday morning in Albany honoring those who have died while urging passage of the New York Medical Aid in Dying Act, which was originally introduced in 2016. 

The act is considered to be a “compassionate end-of-life care option” by advocates. If passed, it would allow a terminally ill, mentally capable adult with six months or less to live to request a prescription for medication from their doctor that they can take when the patient decides.

Daren Eilert told Capital Tonight that the bill could’ve helped people like his 24-year-old daughter, Ayla, an aspiring ballet dancer, who died this month after fighting an aggressive form of cancer. Her father said that despite receiving palliative care, Ayla would plead with staff to help her and would say “my soul is being torn apart” by the pain.

The Medical Aid in Dying bill is sponsored by retiring Democratic State Sen. Diane Savino and Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, a Democrat from Westchester County. Despite receiving a large number of legislative co-sponsors, the bill hasn’t passed through both houses.

Corinne Carey, senior campaign director for Compassion and Choices NY, said some lawmakers don’t want to meet with families and advocates because the issue is tough to talk about.

“If it’s hard to talk about death and dying, imagine how hard it is to witness someone you love suffering and there’s nothing you can do about it,” Carey added.

If passed, New York would become the 12th state where medical aid in dying is legal which also includes neighboring states, New Jersey and Vermont. There are just 16 days left in the scheduled legislative session before lawmakers leave Albany until January.