Rockefeller College Student Shares Personal Story of Advocating for New York Medical Aid in Dying Act

ALBANY, N.Y. (Nov. 9, 2023) – Choosing how you die is one of the most personal decisions a person can make. Ari Klein, a junior at the University at Albany’s Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy, knows this after losing his grandfather to terminal cancer in 2021. 

Klein’s grandfather, who co-founded Hospice & Palliative Care Buffalo, saw firsthand what he called the “needless suffering” of people diagnosed with a terminal illness who could not end their lives on their terms, such as with a prescription from their doctor.  

Following in his grandfather’s footsteps, Klein has spent years advocating for the New York Medical Aid in Dying Act, which would allow mentally competent, terminally ill people to request medication to end their lives peacefully. This is the eighth year the bill has been introduced in the state legislature.

“The last thing I told my grandfather before he passed was I’m going to get your bill passed,“ said Klein, who works with Compassion & Choices, a nonprofit that advocates for medical aid in dying. “You don't need to have this be a personal choice for you and your family, but don't inhibit the choice from other New Yorkers.” 

UAlbany junior J.T. Stone, a student intern in the Office of Communications and Marketing, sat down with Klein to discuss his connection to the issue, what his political activism looks like as a college student and his goals for the future.