TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — New Jersey’s Assembly approved a bill Thursday that would allow physicians to prescribe life-ending drugs to terminally ill patients.
The 41-31 vote came after the measure was pulled from consideration in June.
The bill establishes a procedure for patients to request to end their lives. A second doctor would have to certify the original terminal diagnosis and confirm the patient is capable of making the decision to die without pressure from others.
In addition, the attending physician would have to offer the patient a chance to rescind their request. A consulting physician would then be called upon to certify the original diagnosis and reaffirm the patient is capable of making a decision.
A patient must have a prognosis of six months or less to live to request and be prescribed medication under the bill.
“This discussion is about revisiting a statute last looked at in 1978 that never took into account an individual’s right to control their body and their circumstances,” said Assemblyman John Burzichelli, one of the bill’s co-sponsors. “Like society, medicine, palliative care and hospice services have changed dramatically since then. While there are many choices available right now that may be right for certain people, there is one more choice, not currently available, that deserves an honest discussion.
“One thing is clear by all the polling and public testimony taken: that in New Jersey, a majority of people would like to have another option along with balance of care and hospice,” Burzichelli told WCBS 880’s Sean Adams. “It doesn’t mean that they would necessarily choose it.”