The New Jersey state legislature today approved a bill targeting elderly and disabled people that legalizes assisted suicide statewide. The governor has pledged to sign the bill into law.
Six states (California, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, and Vermont) and Washington D.C. permit the dangerous practice of allowing physicians to write lethal prescriptions to certain groups of persons to kill themselves.
New Jersey works on a system where a bill must achieve 41 votes in the Assembly to pass and 21 votes in the Senate to pass, regardless of how many votes are cast against it. Advocates of the assisted suicide measure received the bare minimum in each chamber to pass it.
New Jersey pro-life advocates fought legalization valiantly for six years but euthanasia supporters finally obtained enough votes for the bill.
Patients Rights Action Fund’s Executive Director, Matt Valliere told LifeNews he was disappointed by the news.
He said: “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.”
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New Jersey Right to Life actively worked against the legislation, and noted how thw Senate president actively worked to get the dangerous measure approved.
“The bill was released from Committee by a vote of 6-3, with one Senator not voting. Senate President Sweeney replaced two members of the committee who previously Voted No on the bill with himself and Senator Scutari who is a sponsor of the bill to ensure there would be enough Yes votes for the bill to pass out of Committee,” the group said. “Testimony on the bill was limited to only one hour with each witness provided only two minutes to make their case. Many physicians, disability advocates and key people who signed up to give testimony did not get a chance to do so.”
The group also warned of numerous problems associated with the workings of the proposed law.
“Proponents claim that this is an issue of personal choice and that those who object to assisted suicide don’t have to utilize it, but taxpayers will be forced to pay for it through NJ’s Medicaid program which is a state taxpayer funded program,” it said. “This means that all taxpayers will be complicit in funding state sanctioned physician assisted suicide if this bill becomes law.”
It added: “Laws should not be passed for the few who want them, but consideration should be given to how it will affect the greater population, especially individuals who are most vulnerable to abuse of such a law.”
“This legislation is bad public policy for New Jersey,” it continued. “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.”
On the pro-euthanasia side, Compassion and Choices launched a $1 million sustained digital video ad campaign featuring terminally ill advocates and their loved ones urging New Jersey lawmakers to pass the bill.