‘Death with Dignity’ bill released by Health Committee

TRENTON – Supporters call it assisted death, while opponents used such terms as “medical manslaughter” and assisted suicide.

But after nearly two hours of testimony, the Assembly Health Committee released a bill enabling a terminally ill person to end their life if they choose to.

Two lawmakers voted no, while two abstained. The rest voted yes.

The bill A3328/S2259, formally known as the “New Jersey Death with Dignity Act,” would allow an adult facing death within six months to obtain medication that they could take themselves to end their life in what the bill describes as “a humane and dignified manner.”

Under the bill, a person would have to have the capacity to make their own health care decisions, and there would have to be a determination by that person’s physician that they are suffering from a terminal illness.

In addition, the legislation would not take effect unless it was approved by voters in a statewide referendum.

Supporters said the option should exist for a patient suffering a terminal illness.  However, opponents aid the six-month prognosis is too little a time to determine if someone is near death. Those opponents added that the bill basically says the bill died of a terminal illness that the patient was suffering from, when in fact the actual cause of death was self-administered drugs.

Opponents called for improved hospice and palliative care.

Republicans Eric Peterson and Mary Pat Angelini voted no, while Nancy Munoz and Amy Handlin abstained.  ‘Death with Dignity’ bill released by Health Committee