NJ legislates the right to die for the terminally ill.

NJ legislates the right to die for the terminally ill.

This was in today’s NJ Star Ledger. The NJ legislature is discussing the controversial subject of the right to die for those who are terminally ill and have had enough. Over the years, there have been stories of health care providers instructing terminal patients how to turn up the morphine drip if they can no longer handle their situation, and of course loved one’s who disconnect their terminal spouses because they can no longer bear the suffering. Somehow, leaving with honor has been tied up by laws that govern who can choose and how.

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Controversial bill would allow terminally ill patients to decide when it’s time to die

Published: Thursday, September 27, 2012, 6:00 AM Updated: Thursday, September 27, 2012, 7:40 AM

TRENTON — A state lawmaker says it’s time for New Jersey to openly discuss the most difficult of topics: whether terminally ill patients should be allowed to decide how and when they die.

Assemblyman John Burzichelli (D-Gloucester) on Monday quietly proposed a bill that would grant doctors the right to prescribe lethal doses of drugs to patients who have less than six months to live. It’s called the New Jersey Death with Dignity Act.

The South Jersey lawmaker wants suffering patients to have the option of ending their days on their own terms. He expects a long debate on the bill.

“This is the beginning of discussing a topic that we’ve got to get a sense of how people feel,” he said. “People are not favorable to a Dr. Kevorkian suicide bill that says someone who’s 45 and depressed and decides to kill themselves with help. That’s not what this bill is.”

Under the bill, no law would be enacted without voter approval, but Burzichelli said he is not sure if the final version will call for a public referendum. If it becomes law, patients would self-administer the drugs.

“In my mind it’s a matter of conscience, faith and a very private decision the individual should be in a position to make if they choose to,” said Burzichelli.

Patrick Brannigan, executive director for the New Jersey Catholic Conference, said while the Church does not require “futile medical treatments or high-tech interventions for the dying” and backs palliative care to ease pain — it does not support hastening the end of life.

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