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TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – New Jersey lawmakers are taking on a controversial bill that would give terminally ill patients the right to choose how and when to die.
Assemblyman John Burzichelli has proposed the New Jersey Death with Dignity Act which would allow doctors to prescribe a lethal dose of drugs to patients who have less than six months to live.
WCBS 880′s Levon Putney reports
“This would give that individual an option to request a prescription from their physician that would allow them to conclude their life sooner rather than later,” Burzichelli told 1010 WINS.
“It’s just like now they can make a decision on what medicines to take or not take depending on the diagnosis, how aggressive to do treatment or not take. This becomes another option,” the assemblyman told WCBS 880′s Levon Putney.
The medication, to be taken either orally or injected, would be self-administered.
Burzichelli stresses that the person would have to be of sound mind when making the request.
“The bill that I have introduced mirrors what’s taking place in Washington State and Oregon State. And it’s really very narrow in where this kind of choice can be exercised. It involves strictly those who are terminally ill with a diagnosis of six months or less to live,” Burzichelli told Putney.
The bill requires a 15 day waiting period after the initial request is made. The patient would then be required to make another verbal request and one in writing that would have to be signed by two witnesses.
The request would have to be witnessed by people who are not associated with the patient’s personal state or anything related to their end of life finances, Burzichelli said.
“People don’t make these choices haphazardly and they don’t make them in thousands and thousands of numbers,” Burzichelli said. “People should have the right, in my opinion, to control their body. This is a matter of personal conscience, a matter of personal faith, and a matter of personal choice.”
The patient would be given the chance the rescind the request.
Not everybody in New Jersey supports the proposal.
Frank Brady, the president of a hospice center in Union County told CBS 2′s Christine Sloan that their goal is to support life, not hasten death.
“The idea of surviving and coming off of hospice is not that uncommon because when you have hope, when you have the right kind of approach to comfort you often people stabilize and go off hospice,” he said.
The Catholic Conference released a statement opposing the bill.
“The Bishops of New Jersey strongly oppose any direct, intentional, or purposeful taking of a human life,” they said.
Burzichelli, a Roman Catholic, called it a matter of personal choice.
The bill, which is modeled after laws in Washington and Oregon, needs voter approval before it could become law.
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