A proposed expansion of New York's wrongful death law is coming down to the final weeks of the year as the measure remains one of the more high-profile proposals yet to be considered by Gov. Kathy Hochul.  

The measure is meant to make it easier for a person to bring a wrongful death claim based on emotional suffering, an extension beyond the current statute that requires a grieving loved one to show financial losses due to a death. 

On one side of the debate has been a coalition of groups like the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus in the state Legislature, who have argued the measure would benefit low-income people and people of color in New York. 

But local government organizations, tort reform groups and doctors have lined up against the proposals, worried it will add to insurance costs if given final approval. 

On Monday, a coalition of non-partisan and progressive organizations, including the AARP, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Families for Safe Streets, New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health, New York Immigration Coalition and Safe Horizon announced support for the measure. 

“People of color face untold numbers of inequities in their everyday lives: workers often earn less for the same jobs as their white counterparts, infants of color face higher rates of mortality resulting from substandard medical care and Black people receive worse medical care in general," the NAACP New York Conference. "New York's wrongful death statute only further reinforces these injustices by narrowly considering lost income as the measure of accountability when loved ones are killed due to another’s recklessness. New York needs to update this callous law.”

Meanwhile, doctors' organizations in the op/ed pages of New York newspapers raise opposition to the measure. The organization that represents OB/GYNs in the state raised the concern the measure would have far-ranging effects for women who are seeking reproductive care and their doctors. 

“I applaud Gov. Kathy Hochul and the legislature for working to enact policies and secure funding to further ensure access to reproductive health care, including abortion in New York State,” Dr. Christine Herde, MD, FACOG, Chair of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, District II wrote in The Buffalo News. “The Empire State has solidified itself as an access state for abortion care and I am proud of that. But if A.6770/S.74-A were enacted without comprehensive reform to reduce liability exposure and costs, our efforts to expand access to reproductive health care may be thwarted.”