NJ Assisted Suicide Bill to Head for Committee Hearing

NJ Statehouse Annex, Trenton, NJ.
NJ Statehouse Annex, Trenton, NJ.

Legislation that would allow physicians to prescribe life-ending medication to terminally ill patients is scheduled for a committee hearing on Thursday.

A previous form of the bill passed the New Jersey State Assembly in 2014, but it lacked support in the Senate and was never brought for a vote in the upper house, allowing it to expire in the last two-year legislative cycle. Its lead sponsor, John Burzichelli, has now re-introduced the measure.

The issue was originally slated to be heard by the Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens committee, but it has be re-assigned to the Appropriations committee, chaired by Mr. Burzichelli himself.

Previously, New Jersey’s main association of doctors testified against the legislation, saying that it would corrupt the role of a physician as a healer. Several religious organizations including Agudath Israel of America plan to testify against the proposal at Thursday’s hearing.

“If assisted suicide becomes law, it can directly imperil even Orthodox Jews who would not willingly choose death, Heaven forbid,” Rabbi Avi Schnall, Agudah’s New Jersey director, told Hamodia. “There is a very real concern of a slippery slope, where doctors, hospitals and insurers can pressure patients diagnosed with a terminal illness, people suffering from mental illness, and individuals with disabilities, to make the wrong choice.”

Governor Chris Christie has said publicly that he opposes the legislation, but Senate President Steve Sweeney has endorsed it. A vote on whether the legislation will advance for a floor vote is expected at the end of the hearing.

Among the members of the Appropriations committee are Assemblywoman Marlene Caride, who represents parts of Passaic; Assemblyman Joseph Lagana, who represents Fairlawn/Bergenfield; and Assemblywoman Annette Quijano, who represents Elizabeth.

Contact your local representative to voice your opinion on this crucial matter. Call:
Assemblywoman Marlene Caride: (201) 943.0615
Assemblyman Joseph Lagana (201) 576-9199
Assemblywoman Annette Quijano: (908) 327-9119

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