Senate version of right to die act introduced

TRENTON – The Senate version of a “right to die” bill has been introduced.

S2259, designated as the “New Jersey Death with Dignity Act,” would allow an adult suffering from a terminal illness to end their life.

The Assembly version, A3328, sponsored by John Burzichelli, (D-3), Paulsboro, was introduced last month. The Senate version is sponsored by Sens. Nicholas Scutari, (D-22), Linden, and Joseph Vitale, (D-19), Woodbridge.

The idea is to allow someone to obtain medication that would end his or her life in a humane and dignified manner.

The person would have to have the capacity to make such decisions, have expressed a wish to die, and can’t be considered solely because of age or a disability.

A request for the medication must be witnessed by two people, and at least one of them must not be a relative or entitled to part of the person’s estate.   

The bill would have to be approved by the voters in a statewide referendum and would take effect on the first day of the third month next following voter approval.

One of the co-sponsors, Vitale, said that this is a moral issue that will require much time, thought and discussion as the bill moves forward.

“This has been a difficult, longstanding issue for families and those who are at the end of life,’’ he said. “This issue has existed from the dawn of time.”

It is an issue that has been argued in courts here and abroad for years. In 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court turned back the Attorney General’s attempt to repeal Oregon’s “death with dignity’’ law. Senate version of right to die act introduced