Washington, New Jersey has legalized assisted suicide by enacting a law that will allow terminally ill individuals in the state the right to choose when they want to die.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed “the Aid in Dying for the Terminal Act” on Friday, which will go into effect on August 1, making New Jersey the seventh state in the US to permit assisted suicide.
“Allowing residents with terminal illnesses to make end-of-life choices for themselves is the right thing to do,” Murphy said in a statement cited by the Hill magazine.
“By signing this bill today, we are providing terminally ill patients and their families with the humanity, dignity, and respect that they so richly deserve at the most difficult times any of us will face.”
A patient’s attending and consulting physicians must determine that the patient has a life expectancy of six months or less, has the capacity to make health care decisions, and is acting voluntarily, in order for the patient to obtain the medication, according to the Murphy administration.
The patient must also request the medication twice and be offered the chance to change their mind.
The legislation passed the state Assembly by a 41-33 margin and the state Senate with a 21-16 vote.
Murphy, a Catholic, said he had mixed feelings about the law. “I have concluded that, while my faith may lead me to a particular decision for myself. As a public official, I cannot deny this alternative to those who may reach a different conclusion.”
“I believe this choice is a personal one and, therefore, signing this legislation is the decision that best respects the freedom and humanity of all New Jersey residents,” he added.
California, Oregon, Colorado, Hawaii, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia all have similar legislation. Montana does not have a law permitting medically assisted suicide for the terminally ill.
However, a 2009 ruling by Montana Supreme Court determined that nothing in state law prevented a physician from prescribing such a drug to terminally ill person.