End-of-Life Choice, Palliative Care and Counseling

Medical Organization Endorses Death With Dignity in New Jerseyby Sonja

Back

Compassion & Choices gained a great ally with GLMA’s endorsement of the New Jersey Death With Dignity Act in October. GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality – formerly known as the Gay & Lesbian Medical Association – is the world’s largest and oldest association of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) healthcare professionals.

“Founded in response to the AIDS crisis, GLMA knows full well how important it is for terminally ill patients and their doctors to be able to discuss all options for end-of-life care,” said Dr. Henry Ng, President of GLMA.  “Aging can be particularly difficult for those in the LGBT community, many of whom lack family support and therefore need a legal framework to discuss all healthcare options when the time comes.”

A leader in public-policy advocacy related to LGBT health, GLMA cited the importance of choice in end-of-life decision-making and the legal ability for patients and doctors to talk freely about the full range of end-of-life options as key reasons for supporting the bill.

“Compassion & Choices welcomes the GLMA to a growing coalition of patients, doctors, legislators and advocates who support death with dignity in New Jersey,” said Compassion & Choices Regional Campaign and Outreach Manager Mark Dann. “The act offers suffering patients the dignity of free choice and minimal suffering at the end of life.”

The New Jersey Death With Dignity Act, backed by 65% of New Jersey voters in a recent poll, would give mentally competent, terminally ill adults the right to choose from a broad list of options to alleviate pain and suffering including, if desired, self-administered medication to bring about a peaceful death. Passage would make New Jersey the fifth state in the nation to allow aid in dying as an end-of-life choice. Similar permissions exist in Oregon, Washington, Montana and Vermont.

“Having worked with AIDS victims and other terminally ill patients, I’ve witnessed hundreds of painful end-of-life experiences,” said Dr. Howard Grossman, a NJ-based specialist in HIV medicine and supporter of the Death With Dignity Act.  “Such patients deserve the dignity that comes with self-determination, and doctors need the legal grounding to ensure their patients understand the full range of end-of-life options.”