WASHINGTON – The New Jersey Assembly today voted to legalize doctor-prescribed suicide in the state. The so-called “Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act” passed the Assembly 41-31 and now goes to the state Senate for consideration. Governor Chris Christie has previously stated he opposed efforts to legalize doctor-prescribed suicide in New Jersey.
“Today’s vote represents another instance of society turning its back on the medically vulnerable who are at risk because they are either depressed or worried about what their future holds,” said Burke Balch, J.D., director of National Right to Life’s Robert Powell Center for Medical Ethics. “Contrary to what we’re told by assisted suicide advocates, these laws do not offer a patient ‘dignity,’ but only abandonment from health care workers and family who are supposed to be caring for patients and loved ones.”
While doctor-prescribed suicide is against the law in nearly every state, Oregon, Washington, and Vermont have laws that authorize the practice under certain circumstances. (Additionally, the Supreme Court of Montana interpreted its law to make “consent” of the victim a defense in cases of homicide. A lower court judge in New Mexico struck its existing protective law. The New Mexico case is currently being appealed.)
Advocates promote these dangerous laws, which are riddled with legal problems surrounding enforcement. In the states where doctor-prescribed suicide is legal and records are kept, most people seek suicide not because they are experiencing pain from illness, but because they feel like they are becoming a “burden” or losing autonomy. The “right to die” rapidly becomes a “duty to die.”
For more information about doctor-prescribed suicide, the Powell Center for Medical Ethics published a four-part study, “Why We Shouldn’t Legalize Assisting Suicide,” which can be found here.