It’s expected that New Jersey will soon become the seventh state (plus DC) to have a law enabling terminally ill people to seek out medical assistance to end their lives. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has stated he expects to sign the bill into law soon. It is called The Medical Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act.
According to a statement released on the governor’s behalf, Gov. Murphy said, “Allowing terminally ill and dying residents the dignity to make end-of-life decisions according to their own consciences is the right thing to do. I look forward to signing this legislation into law.”
New Jersey legislators had been considering legislation such as this for the past seven years, but had never passed anything to send to the governor’s office. Once signed, this bill would allow terminally ill adults, residents of the state, the opportunity to self administer medication to end their own life with the direction of a licensed medical professional. These residents would need to be able to make their own health care decisions, meaning be of sound mind and clearly understand what’s going on.
It was noted in the McKnight’s Senior Living blog, Aid-in-dying bill heads to governor’s desk, written by Lois A. Bowers:
“The legislation details many restrictions and parameters, including that qualifying people would be required to make two oral requests and one written request to the attending physician for the medication. The written request would need to be witnessed by at least two others, at least one of whom could not be a relative, an heir or the owner, operator or employee of a healthcare facility, other than a long-term care facility, where the person is receiving medical treatment or is a resident. The person’s attending physician could not be a witness.”
Any person who acts in compliance with the law would be shielded from civil or criminal liability in assisting a terminally ill person from ending their life. This law would also protect them from professional repercussions, censure, discipline, or even suspension or loss of license that could all occur presently without this law.
The law also calls for any medication prescribed under the bill that is not used, such as in the case of a person who changes their mind, to be disposed of properly, according to guidelines in the legislation. Other states that have similar laws include California, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, and Vermont, as well as the District of Columbia.