The NJ Death with Dignity Act would allow terminally ill (six month prognosis), mentally competent adults the choice to avoid a prolonged and painful death by ending their lives with self-administered medications.
65% of NJ voters want the legal option for a peaceful death if they are terminally ill.
The NJ Death with Dignity Act (A3328) passed out of Assembly committee in February by a 7-2-2 vote and is expected to come up for a full vote during the lame duck session.
NJ will become the fifth state in the Union to legalize aid in dying (after OR, WA, MT, and VT).
Safeguards include: two physicians confirm prognosis; patient certifies free will in writing; two witnesses attest to patient’s mental competence.
No evidence of abuse of such laws exists and very few use it – 83 individuals self-administered medication under Washington’s law in 2012, for instance.
Thanks to support from hundreds of Compassion & Choices members, we reached our ambitious $200,000 fundraising goal — unlocking an unprecedented $200,000 matching gift from a generous group of anonymous donors.
That’s an astounding $400,000 to expand our national leadership and grassroots activism in the states — including our efforts to pass death-with-dignity legislation in Connecticut and New Jersey next year, and our long-range goal to make aid in dying for terminal patients legal in California within five years.
This is by far the most ambitious matching gift we’ve ever received — and I’m so very pleased and proud at how readily Compassion & Choices supporters stepped forward to help us meet the challenge.
Thank you for your help in building this movement. Together, we will do great things.
Compassion & Choices board member Dr. Charlie Hamlin enjoyed celebrity status this summer with an acclaimed multistate speaking tour. His presentation, “Mortality, Morality & Honor: The End-of-Life Paradigm,” covered common attitudes, hopes and fears, as well as the roles that medicine, law, government and church play in people’s approach to dying. He aimed to provide a clearer picture of “the last chapter” and ways each of us can control how that plays out.
Dr. Hamlin started his tour in Maine, where he has strong family roots as a descendent of Hannibal Hamlin, Abraham Lincoln’s first vice president. He continued in his home state of Colorado and most recently New Mexico, speaking to packed rooms and at least one state legislator in attendance. The talk, according to Dr. Hamlin, was “intended as a philosophical reminder of the circle of life and meant as a reminder to all to stay young and die young as late as possible … and plan on it.”
“His presentation was fabulous,” said Erin Marshall, Compassion & Choices New Mexico campaign manager. “He’s incredibly warm, funny and engaging on a topic that is less than comfortable to present. Even with his medical background, he spoke from a very human perspective and really tried to get audience members to think for themselves. Everybody just loved him.” More
Reverend Madison Shockley serves as a United Church of Christ (UCC) pastor in Carlsbad, California. A compelling spokesman for end-of-life choice, Rev. Shockley recalls several experiences that reconciled his theological beliefs with his views on dying.
The issue for me turned in ministry when I was visiting one of our parishioners, a retired minister who was dying. And he was asking for death – not in the sense of assistance, but he was welcoming death. Watching him and hearing him just really put a different perspective on it for me. Though I’ve been in ministry for over 30 years, I can still count on one hand the times I’ve been in the room at the moment of death. But those rare moments are a large part of what changed me, to see how people do suffer.
A respiratory disease [death] was one [that changed me]: to watch a person basically suffocate, and also watch the nurse with a wink and a nod increase the morphine to give not pain relief but comfort. One could consider that she basically gave him an overdose. But the gasping for air was so painful for him and for his family to watch, I could understand it.
Since then, each time I have been in what I really regard as a sacred situation, to be present when someone dies, I’m reminded everyone dies differently. Our deaths are as different as our lives. We should have the same freedom to live our lives as to live our deaths. More
The death-with-dignity movement suffered a great loss with the passing of former chairman of the Compassion & Choices board of directors, member and dedicated friend, Paul Spiers. Paul died yesterday in Danvers, Massachusetts. He was 62.
Paul was a neuroscientist and a teacher first, and an activist second. The misfortune of his 1994 horseback-riding accident left him paralyzed from the chest down and vitally concerned with the rights of patients. He began to speak out on the importance of end-of-life choices. As a person with a disability, speaking in opposition to disability rights leaders, his voice mattered. It took courage to speak out against the disability party line, and this Paul had in abundance. He did not shy away from debate, and enthusiastically made appearances and filed legal briefs in support of the work of Compassion & Choices until shortly before his death.
Our movement took great evolutionary leaps in the early years of this millennium, and Paul Spiers was the force behind that evolution. He broadened the focus of the Hemlock Society to include political advocacy and, as chair of the board, led it to change its name and mission.
In January 2003 he courageously distanced the organization from movement extremists and clarified the limitation of its advocacy of aid in dying to the terminally ill and mentally competent. In July of that year the Hemlock Society became End-of-Life Choices and began to realize opportunities for growth and leadership that continue at Compassion & Choices today. More