New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed a bill on Friday that would allow terminally ill patients to self-administer drugs to end their own lives. This makes New Jersey the seventh state to legalize assisted-suicide.
The “Medical Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act,” which will allow doctors to prescribe life-ending medications to adult patients with six months or less to live, goes into effect on August 1.
“Allowing residents with terminal illnesses to make end-of-life choices for themselves is the right thing to do,” said Governor Murphy. “By signing this bill today, we are providing terminally ill patients and their families with the humanity, dignity, and respect that they so richly deserve at the most difficult times any of us will face. I commend Assemblyman Burzichelli for steering us down this long, difficult road, and thank the Legislature for its courage in tackling this challenging issue.”
Under the legislation, before prescribing the medication, doctors will be required to determine that the patient has a life expectancy of sixth months or less, has the capacity to make health care decisions, and is acting voluntarily.
Marie Tasy of New Jersey Right to Life noted that the passage of an assisted suicide law is the result of a national push to legalize euthanasia.
“Be ready for this type of assault,” said Marie Tasy, executive director of New Jersey Right to Life according to a report in One News Now. “People who are pushing this in the states are not people by and large that are citizens of the state, but an outside, well-funded group called Compassion and Choices who are funded by some millionaire donors.”
New Jersey joins California, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Vermont and the District of Columbia in legalizing medically-assisted suicide. The bill passed the Assembly by a 41-33 margin, and the Senate in a 21-16 vote on March 25.
After the legislature passed the bill last month, Patients Rights Action Fund’s executive director, Matt Valliere said that the legislation would endanger those most in need of help, according to a report at the website LifeNews.
“Today, the New Jersey Assembly and Senate failed its citizens by passing A1504/S1072. In other states where assisted suicide is legal, it has proven impossible to regulate and leaves the door wide open for abuse and coercion. The vulnerable in society: the poor, terminally ill, and people with disabilities, will be the most negatively affected by assisted suicide. New Jersey ought to be investing in better care and support at the end of life, not enshrining this dangerous public policy into law. We call on Governor Phil Murphy to veto this bill,” he said.
New Jersey Right Life noted that the legislation strips protections from patients, leaving them vulnerable to pressures to cut costs.
“This legislation is bad public policy for New Jersey,” said the pro-life group, according to LifeNews. “It threatens the doctor-patient relationship because it will turn physicians who are meant to be healers into agents of death, who will act directly to cause the death of patient. As we have seen in other states where assisted suicide is legal, health insurance companies (including Medicaid providers) who are always looking to cut costs will deny patients treatments to save and sustain their lives, but instead offer assisted suicide drugs because it is cheaper to do so.”
“The “so-called” safeguards in the bill are hollow and do not protect the patient. In addition, the bill grants complete immunity to everyone but the patient. It also involves third parties in the decision making process (including those who are not “capable” of personally communicating their wishes) and is a recipe for abuse, especially for the elderly and disabled populations,” they said.