TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — New Jersey’s right-to-die law just went into effect earlier this month but now a judge has halted it after a Bergen County doctor opposed it.
Advocates have been fighting for the right to die for terminally ill patients for years. On Aug. 1, the “New Jersey Medical Aid In Dying Act” went into effect saying you must
have six months or less to live and be diagnosed by two medical doctors. The patient must also sign a written declaration witnessed by two people that they’re acting voluntarily and must take the medication, themselves.
Though there are those for this law, there are many against it, including Dr. Yosef Glassman of Bergen County.
“He feels it opposes his rights as a doctor, his obligations as a doctor to heal and his religious viewpoints, which is that he does not want to participate in an assisted suicide,” said E. David Smith, Dr. Glassman’s attorney.
Judge Paul Innes of Superior Court in Mercer County sided with Dr. Glassman and has issued a temporary restraining order on the law. Though not required to participate, doctors are required to refer patients to another doctor, which Smith said his client did not want to do.
On Thursday, Gov. Phil Murphy, who signed the bill back in April, vowed to vigorously fight the judge’s decision.
“It is really hard for me, particularly given growing up as a Catholic,” Murphy said. “This one was not an easy one to get to, but I got convinced that it shouldn’t be the law that dictates how things end. But it should be you and your loved ones.”
Though the law took effect at the beginning of the month, it required a two-week waiting period before a doctor could fill a patient’s prescription. That would’ve been Friday.
The next court date is scheduled for Oct. 23.
The bill’s main sponsor said it’s unfortunate that those qualified terminally ill patients who may have sought relief under the new law will suffer while the matter is resolved.