TRENTON – Supporters are coming to the aid of the Good Samaritan bill.
Parents who lost their children to drug overdoses joined Monday alongside other supporters of the bill that would protect people from criminal liability who seek medical help for others suffering a drug overdose.
The group called on the Legislature to once again take up the so-called Good Samaritan bill after the proposal was conditionally vetoed by Gov. Chris Christie in October. The group characterized the governor’s decision as “misguided” and asked that lawmakers give the proposal the same bipartisan support it received when it first cleared both chambers.
“There are voices from the grave saying ‘do the right thing,’” said Kass Foster, a mother who lost her 27-year-old son to a drug overdose in 1997.
“Nobody that was with [my son] called 911,” she said, echoing similar comments made by other parents who argued people often avoid calling for emergency help during cases of drug overdoses out of fear of being charged with possession.
“Children are dying. Our children are dying,” said another mother, Linda Surks, whose 19-year-old son died from an overdose.
In his conditional veto message, Christie called for an 18-month study on the proposed legislation to explore the issue of drug overdose reporting and provide suggestions to the administration.
Proponents of the bill called it “tragic” to allow more people to succumb to drug overdoses simply because others are afraid to contact emergency personnel for help.
“It’s not about condoning drug use, it’s about saving a life,” said Assemblywoman Connie Wagner, (D-38), Paramus, who shared her own story of having to call for help on three occasions when her own son nearly died from drug overdoses.
“This bill is close to me because my son was once an active addict,” she explained, saying that her son is now sober and has a family of his own.
“This is a no-brainer,” she said.
The Legislature has yet to successfully overturn one of Christie’s vetoes.
Wagner said she expects the veto override attempt for the bill to be posted for a vote on Dec. 17.