'Right to die' law for terminally ill goes into effect in NJ

David Madden
July 31, 2019 - 4:15 pm
Right to die

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TRENTON, N.J. (KYW Newsradio) — A new law that takes effect Thursday in New Jersey will allow those with a terminal illness — who have less than six months to live — the right to end their lives with the help of a physician willing to take part in the process.

But if history is any indicator, don’t expect a rush of people looking to avail themselves of that option.

It took several years for the state to get this far, and supporters are now focused on getting health care professionals to understand that this is about helping patients at their most critical time.

Proponents of the law — approved by Gov. Phil Murphy back in April — note that it mandates two physicians to sign off on a patient’s desire to go through with that final option.

“The law requires that doctors make sure that the person has the capacity to consent and also that they’re able to self-ingest the medication,” said Corinne Carey, campaign director for the New Jersey chapter of Compassion & Choices. “This is not something that a physician administers to someone. This is something that someone decides to take on their own.”

Seven other states have legalized the so-called “aid in dying” law. But Carey said few people ask for the option, and even fewer use it.

For those who do, there are protections for loved ones left behind.

“No life insurance policy can be denied to a family whose loved one uses medical aid in dying,” she added. “The law is very specific.”

Several states, including Pennsylvania and Delaware, have similar legislation under consideration.