New Jersey’s terminally ill will soon be allowed to request “Aid in Dying.”
Gov. Phil Murphy signed the “Medical Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act” on Friday at a private ceremony accompanied by chronically ill patients, their families and advocates.
Adults with less than six months to live will be able to request that their doctor prescribe a lethal dose of medication to end their lives and shorten their suffering.
The bill was first introduced seven years ago and has been the subject of bitter debate among medical professionals, religious leaders and advocates for the ill and people with disabilities.
“The choice for patients, who are critically ill and with a short life expectancy prescribed by their doctors, to determine their final day on this earth with dignity deserved honest and intellectual discussion,” said the bill’s sponsor Assemblyman John Burzichelli in a statement. “It’s been a long, learned discussion, one that I’m sure will continue as we move forward today.”
Among the points of contention over the years were the level of safeguards to protect patients from abuse.
The law requires that two physicians certify that a patient is terminally ill with six months or less to live and that the patient must be able to take the medication themselves.
If a physician has any doubt about the patient’s mental competency they can request a mental health assessment before dispensing the prescription.
New Jersey joins eight other states and Washington D.C. with similar laws on the books. The law goes into effect on August 1.