New Jersey Poised to Become Latest State to Legalize Assisted Suicide

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Posted: Mar 27, 2019 7:25 AM
New Jersey Poised to Become Latest State to Legalize Assisted Suicide

Source: AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Chris Young

It’s a sad day for New Jersey, as the state is poised to become the latest in the nation to allow medically-assisted suicide for terminally-ill patients. 

On Monday, state lawmakers passed bills in the Senate and Assembly approving the “Medical Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act,” which would give patients with six months to live or less the right to medication that would end their life. 

Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy vowed to sign the legislation, calling The Garden State “a more dignified and empathic state” because of it.

Assisted suicide is currently legal in seven states and the District of Columbia.

“This measure is about dignity,” Murphy said in a statement. “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.”

As New Jersey Right to Life noted, the legislation was narrowly passed in both the Assembly (with 41 votes) and Senate (with 21 votes). And shamefully, it was done so with some Republican support.

“In other states where assisted suicide is legal, it has proven impossible to regulate and leaves the door wide open for abuse and coercion,” said Patients Rights Action Fund Executive Director Matt Valliere, Breitbart reports. “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.”

A two-time cancer survivor penned an op-ed ahead of the vote stressing two additional points to consider--that doctors can be very wrong about how much time a terminally-ill patient has left to live and the "perverse incentive this gives to insurers."

Most people with my prognosis live about three years. So far, I have survived 13! Under the proposal in Trenton, a doctor must predict their patient has six-month or less to live. What if a doctor’s “educated guess” is wrong, and people throw away good years or even decades of their life when they might have lived, like I did?

A terminal prognosis itself can be enough to precipitate a request for assisted suicide. Illness-induced clinical depression and anxiety are common among patients with life-threatening illness. I know this intimately. But these feelings can come and go. They may not be evident at the time of the request or may be missed by the attending physician. No psychiatric evaluation is required to get lethal medication under the proposal now being considered. [...]

Given my experiences with cancer, however, my greatest concern is the perverse incentive it gives to insurers, whether for-profit or government-run. If assisted suicide becomes a legal medical “treatment,” it could be prescribed by your doctor and paid for by your insurer. Insurers will always prefer to cover the cheapest treatment option. It doesn’t take much to see that a quick death through assisted suicide will always be the cheapest “treatment” option. Elsewhere where this practice is legal, there are multiple cases of people being denied coverage for life-extending or curative treatments, while coverage for assisted suicide is offered instead. (NJ.com)

As some on social media quipped, high taxes and death are now all that's guaranteed in New Jersey. 

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This post has been updated.