Conservative and religious leaders are raising concern over a newly introduced bill in the New Jersey state legislature that would make assisted suicide legal.
Bill A3328, also known as the New Jersey "Death with Dignity Act" was introduced in the New Jersey state legislature last week by Assemblyman John Burzichelli and is seeking voter approval to legalize physician-assisted suicide.
As the bill is written it would allow for a legal, adult resident in New Jersey, who has the mental capacity to make their own health care decisions, to request such action. The bill would require that the individual, seeking a physician assisted suicide, have his doctor and consulting physician to state that their patient is suffering from a terminal disease and that death is expected within six months. Should that happen then the patient would be given medication that the patient would self-administer to end their life.
"This bill permits the deliberate and intentional taking of human life. It will hasten death and has a potential for a myriad of serious abuses," Marie Tasy, the director of New Jersey Right to Life, told LifeNews.com.
"It removes all hope for the patient and their families. It does not allow for human error which so often occurs in the medical profession with regard to terminal diagnosis and predictions of patients' lifespans," she added.
The language in the bill states that patients who desire assisted suicide would first have to verbally request such actions from doctors. Then within a 2-week time frame, the patient would also have to submit a written request that is signed by two witnesses.
The patient would always have the right to decided not to proceed, but should they be willing, a second doctor would need to certify the diagnosis and then confirm that the patient is competent and under no outside pressure.
Patients who request such a procedure who are determined to have "impaired judgment" would be referred to counselors, but would not be allowed life-ending medication.
The New Jersey law would be based on laws in Oregon and Washington, where doctors are allowed to prescribe drugs to help terminally ill people end their lives. Oregon passed its law in 1997 and Washington's law has been on the books since 2009.
Tasy also stated that the proposed New Jersey law requires a pharmacist to give medications to patients even if the pharmacist has a moral, religious or philosophical objection and that A3328 would force pharmacists to provide drugs that would even go against their conscience.
Len Deo, New Jersey Family Policy Council President, explained that his organization is opposed to such a measure and is worried if this legislation should pass what direction public policy would be headed.
"We believe that life should run its course," Deo told CitizenLink.com. "As our country struggles with the culture of death verses the culture of life, these are inevitable the outcomes we will see in public policy."