New Jersey Legalizes Aid In Dying For Terminally Ill

The new legislation gives those with a six-month prognosis or an irreversible fatal illness the right to seek a doctor's help to die.

New Jersey has given terminally ill individuals the right to choose when they want to die.

On Friday, Gov. Phil Murphy (D) signed the Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act, which was passed by the New Jersey state legislature last month.

“Allowing residents with terminal illnesses to make end-of-life choices for themselves is the right thing to do,” Murphy said in a statement. “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.”

The governor praised Deputy Assembly Speaker John Burzichelli (D) for introducing the bill and guiding it through the legislature.

Under the new law, New Jersey residents with an irreversibly fatal disease or those with a prognosis of death within six months or less can ask their doctor to provide life-ending medication. Disabilities do not qualify as a condition for this kind of treatment.

If a patient decides they want a lethal prescription, they must make two oral requests to their doctor at least 15 days apart and an additional request to their doctor in writing.

Patients must also sign a form acknowledging that they have been “fully informed” of their diagnosis, prognosis, the nature of the medication and all the risks involved.

“This measure is about dignity,” Murphy said in a statement last week, in which he vowed to sign the bill.

“Allowing terminally ill and dying residents the dignity to make end-of-life decisions according to their own consciences is the right thing to do,” he added.

Six other states and Washington, D.C., have enacted similar legislation enabling terminally ill patients to choose whether they want a medically assisted death. Medically assisted death is legal in Montana through a court decision.