Compassion & Choices was joined by advocates, supporters and family members of deceased, terminally Ill New Jerseyans, in presenting over 500 petitions in support of New Jersey’s Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act (A1504/S1072) to Governor Phil Murphy.
The petition reads: “Congratulations, Governor Murphy! We look forward to the day when New Jersey residents will enjoy the same end of life options as residents in other progressive, forward looking states including Oregon, Washington, Montana, Vermont, California, Colorado, and Washington, DC. I am among the 63 percent of New Jersey voters who believe that qualified terminally ill, mentally capable adults should have the right to request and receive medication that they can take to achieve a peaceful death. Please join us in supporting New Jersey’s Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act.”
“Today we congratulate Governor Murphy and look forward to demonstrating to him not only the overwhelming support for medical aid in dying among New Jerseyans but also the sound public policy and improvements in end-of-life care this option has brought to those states where it is a permitted medical practice,” said Corinne Carey, Compassion & Choices New Jersey Campaign Director.
“Governor Murphy and the Legislature are in a unique position to take on the pressing issue of improving end-of-life care and expanding options for the residents of New Jersey,” said Kim Callinan, chief executive officer of Compassion & Choices. “As a former resident of New Jersey, I urge state lawmakers to respect the wishes of their dying constituents – even if they differ from their own – and pass the Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act.”
New Jersey’s Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act, sponsored by Sen. Nicholas Scutari(D-Linden) and Assemblymembers John J. Burzichelli (D-Paulsboro), Tim Eustace (D- Bergen) and Joe Danielson (D-Franklin Township), would give mentally capable, terminally ill adults with six months or fewer to live the option to get a doctor’s prescription for medication they can decide to take if their end-of-life suffering becomes unbearable so they can die peacefully in their sleep.
The legislation has a large coalition of supporters, including the New Jersey chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, the New Jersey chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, and the New Jersey Psychological Association, as well as members of the state’s medical, scientific and religious communities. In addition, 63 percent of New Jersey residents said they would support an aid-in-dying bill that “would allow terminally ill patients to obtain a prescription to end their lives,” according to a 2015 Rutgers-Eagleton poll.
Susan Boyce from Rumson, a mother of four children who is living with progressive, terminal, genetic disease Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency, said: “I am heartened by the support that my fellow New Jerseyans continue to show for medical aid in dying. I continue to do all I can to fight my illness, but if and when my treatment options become exhausted, I would like my life to end the way I’ve lived: surrounded by my friends and loved ones. An end-of-life options law would give me the freedom to achieve a peaceful death. My fellow advocates and I have only one goal: to be afforded the right to decide how we spend our final days.”
Mary Creagan from Mount Laurel, said: “My brother, Michael, died three years ago after terminal throat cancer spread to his brain. Although he was in Hospice care at home, he was heavily sedated and in a lot of pain. His greatest wish was to have a peaceful end to his suffering. He spent most of the final weeks of his life begging for help to be let go. Medical aid in dying is a decision he should have been able to make for himself; a peaceful, sound option when his pain and suffering became too much to bear.”