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POLL: Do you support a ‘Death with Dignity’ bill?

FILE – This undated file photo provided by the Maynard family shows Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old terminally ill woman who plans to take her own life under Oregon’s death with dignity law. A spokesman for a terminally ill Oregon woman says she has taken lethal medication prescribed by a doctor and died. (AP Photo/Maynard Family, File)
FILE – This undated file photo provided by the Maynard family shows Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old terminally ill woman who plans to take her own life under Oregon’s death with dignity law. A spokesman for a terminally ill Oregon woman says she has taken lethal medication prescribed by a doctor and died. (AP Photo/Maynard Family, File)

The idea of giving terminally ill patients who’ve been given a diagnosis of 6 months or fewer to live the right to end their own lives has come up before.

And despite whatever misgivings I’ve had due to my Catholic school upbringing – it never made sense to me to see those who you love suffer horrific pain in their final moments.

That’s why I’ve always been supportive of the efforts of Assemblyman John Burzichelli and Assemblyman Herb Conaway (D-Burlington), who’s a doctor in private practice, to get this bill through the legislature.

Despite their efforts, Burzichelli decided to pull the bill from consideration this past June feeling that he did not have the necessary 41 votes needed to pass it.

However, according to a report on NJ.com, the bill is up for a vote again this Thursday.

Burzichelli believes support for the bill will be bolstered by the recent death of Brittany Maynard – the terminally ill woman who ended her life a week ago by swallowing lethal drugs made available under Oregon’s Death With Dignity Law.

Burzichelli said it’s not a sure thing he’ll muster the 41 votes needed to pass it this time and that he’ll keep trying until he can. A companion bill in the state Senate has not advanced.

This all flies in the face of a recent poll suggesting that a majority of New Jersey residents polled – 51 percent – would approve of doctor-assisted suicide. Thirty eight would be opposed.

As has been reported before, the process isn’t as cut-and-dried as it may sound.

The patient would first have to be given a diagnosis of 6 months or less to live, then be able to obtain a prescription from a doctor, first verbally, then in writing signed by 2 witnesses 15 days later.

The patient is then given a chance to rescind the order, and the doctor along with another would have to determine that the patient was making the decision of his or her own free will.

As involved as it sounds, if a patient so chooses, is in enough distress, and meets all the above criteria – then the patient should be given the option to go through the process.

It had been suggested that it’s possible a patient could be given a misdiagnosis – and make the decision to die based on misinformation.

True, none of us actually knows the date and time we’ll leave this earth.

And while we’ve heard of miracle cures and diagnoses that haven’t panned out – would that be enough to convince you that this measure is ill-thought out?

Could you stand to see a loved one suffer unremitting pain in their final moments?

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