By Dave Andrusko
Phil Murphy, the governor of New Jersey, said in a statement that he would sign the so-called “Medical Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act,” a measure that “passed each chamber with the minimum number of votes: 21 in the Senate and 41 in the Assembly,” according to reporter Dustin Racioppi.
A coalition centered around disability rights organizations has fought similar legislation for years. Such a measure passed the state Assembly in 2014 and 2016, but not the state Senate.
State Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D) cast the decisive vote. In a way he likely did not mean, he said this was “perhaps one of the most consequential bills that we’ll act on in our time here.”
As is always the case with assisted suicide measures, ostensibly the reach is “limited,” in this case to “terminally ill” patients who are “mentally competent adults.” To “qualify” as terminally ill, “two physicians would be required to attest that the person had less than six months to live,” according to Racioppi.
Racioppi quoted from Sen. Robert Singer, R-Ocean, who
wondered aloud on the Senate floor if the state would put too much trust in doctors. He noted that in response to the opioid epidemic the state has put limits on how much doctors can prescribe. But the bill would put a person’s fate in the hands of physicians.
“What if they’re wrong? What if they made a mistake and that person is not going to die?” Singer said
Compassion and Choices, the richly funded assisted suicide advocacy organization, of course hailed the vote in the state Senate. Indicative of the opposition critics faced, Compassion and Choices wrote, “New Jersey newspapers have now published 18 columns, editorials and op-eds since last March urging the state legislature to pass this legislation.”