Pro-life groups are very concerned about a bill that has been introduced in the New Jersey state legislature that would make the state the third, following Oregon and Washington, to legalize assisted suicide.
Bill A3328 seeking voter approval to legalize physician assisted suicide has been introduced this week by Democrat Assemblyman John Burzichelli, a Democrat. The bill is called the NJ Death With Dignity Act” and it would allow an adult resident in New Jersey, who has the capacity to make health care decisions and who has been determined by that individual’s attending and consulting physicians to be suffering from a terminal disease that will cause death within six months, to obtain medication that the patient may self-administer to end his life.
Marie Tasy, the director of New Jersey Right to Life, told LifeNews her group strongly opposes the measure, saying, “We vigorously oppose this bill and urge rejection of the bill.”
“This bill permits the deliberate and intentional taking of human life. It will hasten death and has a potential for a myriad of serious abuses,” Tasy explained. “It removes all hope for the patient and their families. It does not allow for human error which so often occurs in the medical profession with regard to terminal diagnosis and predictions of patients’ lifespans.”
Tasy said, under current New Jersey law, a pharmacist is required to dispense medications even if he has moral, religious or philosophical objections. She told LifeNews that A3328 would therefore force pharmacists to dispense lethal prescriptions even if goes against their consciences to do so.
The bill comes as residents of Massachusetts are fighting their own battle against a November ballot measure that would legalize assisted suicide there.
New Jersey Family Policy Council President Len Deo said the organization is “very much opposed” to the legislation.
“We believe that life should run its course,” he told CitizenLink, which provided more information about it. “As our country struggles with the culture of death verses the culture of life, these are inevitable the outcomes we will see in public policy.”
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If passed, patients seeking assisted suicide would be able to verbally request a prescription from doctors. Within the next 15 days, they also would need to submit a verbal and written request, signed by two witnesses. The patient would retain the right to change his or her mind, but if he or she chooses to proceed, a second doctor would need to certify the diagnosis and confirm the patient is acting willingly.
Doctors would be required to refer patients with “impaired judgment” to counseling; these individuals would not be eligible for the life-ending drugs.
The New Jersey law would be modeled after laws in Oregon and Washington, where doctors may prescribe drugs to help terminally ill people commit suicide. Oregon enacted its law in 1997; Washington’s law went into effect in 2009. In Montana, physician-assisted suicide has been permitted on a case-by-case basis decided by courts since 2009.
Since the 1990s, residents of California, Maine and Michigan have voted down physician-assisted suicide bills.