New Jersey Set To Legalize Assisted Suicide For The Terminally-ill

New Jersey Set To Legalize Assisted Suicide For The Terminally-ill

The bill legalizing physician assisted suicide was passed in the New Jersey legislature on Monday. Procedure soon to be avaliable for the terminally ill.

Adults who are terminally ill will soon be able to request for medical help to end their lives in New Jersey. The bill was introduced in the legislature on Monday. As reported by CNN, Governor Phil Murphy said that he plans to sign the bill to legalize medically assisted suicide soon. According to the bill, adults with a prognosis of six months or lesser to live will be allowed to get a prescription to life-ending medication. The bill requires a second opinion on the diagnosis. This will be followed by sessions with a psychiatrist or a psychologist who will determine whether the patient has the mental capacity to make such a decision. The prescription is a series of self-administered pills that can be taken at home. Currently, California, Colorado, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, Hawaii, Montana and the District of Columbia allow physician-assisted suicide.

"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," said Murphy. However, Governor Murphy has not yet announced when he will be signing the bill and making it a law. The sponsors are glad that the terminally ill patients now have more options with their end-of-life care. They will no longer have to wait for the illness to take them away slowly and painfully. They can decide to pull the plug if they do not want to wait till the end. 


"This seems to be something New Jersey residents care about," said Democratic Assemblyman John Burzichelli. "We've heard lots of stories over the years because they didn't have another avenue to get help." The bill was not completely supported when it was passed in the legislature. It narrowly passed the Senate. Those who voted against legalizing medically assisted suicide are unsure the effects the law is going to have. They are also apprehensive about the effects of the medication that is going to be used. 

But medically assisted suicide is not the same as euthanasia. The World Federation of Right to Die Societies states: Physician-assisted suicide refers to the physician providing the means for death, most often with a prescription. The patient, not the physician, will ultimately administer the lethal medication. Euthanasia generally means that the physician would act directly, for instance by giving a lethal injection, to end the patient's life.


"The bill has lasting ramifications and lots of loopholes," said Republican Sen. Robert Singer. "We are so concerned about opioids, and not trusting doctors with opioids. But now we are willing to trust them with this." Various versions of this bill have been suggested in New Jersey since 2014 but none of them were passed even in the legislature. This is the first time that the bill has gone to a vote in the Senate. New Jersey is not alone in taking steps towards the new law. There are 19 other states who are considering physician-assisted suicide bills.


A section of doctors is against the passing of the bill. They warn that passing the bill is too risky. Since the procedure requires medication to be prescribed to the patient - a medication that can be taken without any medical professionals around - it gives room for a lot of foul play. Healthcare costs are on a rise, assisted suicide gives insurance companies an exponentially less expensive option because it is cheaper to prescribe death pills than pay for expensive treatments which preserve life.


Such cases have been documented in California and Oregon where medically assisted suicide is already legal. In these cases, insurance companies have denied to provide funds for standard treatments and have offered to cover assisted suicide. It is the cheapest option for them. Proponents of assisted suicide reference unmanageable pain at the end of life as a justification for it. However, the pain and suffering are not even among the top five reasons as to why the bill should not be passed. The top three reasons listed are the loss of enjoyment in usual activities, burden to family and loss of autonomy.



Assisted suicide, like hospice, requires a doctor to “certify” six months or less to live. This poses another issue as doctors are routinely wrong. People are regularly taken in and out of hospice as they generally outlive their prognoses. There is also the problem of doctors who are happy to comply with the assisted suicide option. The procedure requires a green light from two doctors. It is pretty obvious that doctors always reach out to like-minded doctors making it easy for both to agree with the patient and prescribe the life-ending medication.



The American College of Physicians (ACP), the most respected medical specialty association in the nation, recently reiterated its opposition to assisted suicide. Lawmakers in New Jersey and healthcare policy advocates considering the issue of assisted suicide should take notice, along with the rest of us, of the very real and negative impacts this false option has on patients, their families, and on society. Terminally ill patients require love and support but until the system is fixed and the negative impacts have been reduced to a minimum, the bill should be reconsidered. 

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