“NJ Death With Dignity Act” Officially Introduced [AUDIO]
Terminally ill New Jerseyans with little time left to live should have the option of ending their own lives on their own terms according to Assemblyman John Burzichelli.
He has introduced the instantly controversial "New Jersey Death With Dignity Act" and he has no problem explaining his position on the issue.
"This is not a Dr. Kevorkian approach," says Burzichelli. "This doesn't allow a person who's 45 (and) depressed and doesn't feel that they want to live to make a phone call and have someone assist them in ending their life. This is strictly provided to those who are terminally ill, giving them another choice in how to manage their body and their circumstances."
Nothing in the act shall be construed to authorize a physician or any other person to end a patient's life by lethal injection, active euthanasia, or mercy killing or lower the applicable standard of care to be provided by a health care professional who participates in this act.
Under Burzichelli's measure which would require voter approval, in order to be eligible, a patient would have to be of sound mind and diagnosed by two doctors as terminally ill with six months or less to live. The person would then make verbal request for a lethal prescription of drugs.
A 15-day waiting period would follow the first verbal request. The patient would then be required to make another verbal; request and a written request signed by two witnesses. At least one witness shall not be a relative by blood, marriage, or adoption of the person signing this request, shall not be entitled to any portion of the person's estate upon death, and shall not own, operate, or be employed at a health care facility where the person is a patient or resident.
After the aforementioned steps are taken, Burzichelli explains, "If they choose to conclude their life in advance of the illness taking its natural course they would be able to make that request to a physician to prescribe the appropriate drugs…Right now they can't make that decision and they can't ask a doctor for a prescription that would cause them to go to rest sooner than later."
Burzichelli says under his proposal the patient always remains in total control, because he or she would also be the one who would have to administer the fatal dose of drugs.
Washington State and Oregon currently have similar statutes on the books.
Burzichelli says the New Jersey legislature hasn't taken up this issue since 1978 and prior to that year assisted suicide of any kind was not illegal by statute.
Many in the religious community are adamantly opposed to what they consider to be the speeding up death.