Most of us probably know or have known friends or relatives who’ve suffered through the ravages of terminal illness – wanting desperately for a way to alleviate their suffering – but doing so in a way that would give then the opportunity to say goodbye to loved ones, and leave on their terms.

The New Jersey Death with Dignity Act would accomplish that end.

First brought up back in February, the bill would allow terminally ill patients who’ve been given a diagnosis of 6 months or fewer to live, to self administer a series of drugs while being monitored by at least 2 physicians, and being given a chance to rescind their request should the patient decide to do so.

According to this:

This past February, a state Assembly panel approved legislation known as the New Jersey Death with Dignity Act, which would allow voters to decide if New Jersey should create a process for terminally ill patients who wish to be given medicinal help to end their lives.
That measure has been stalled ever since, and many of those patients are now calling on lawmakers to move the legislation.

The bill defines a “terminal disease” as an incurable, irreversible, medically confirmed diagnosis that will, within reasonable judgment, result in a patient’s death within six months. Under the measure, the patient would have to self-administer the lethal dose of drugs.

If approved, the bill would require those patients to first verbally request a prescription from their attending physician, followed by a second verbal request at least 15 days later, and one request in writing signed by two witnesses.

The attending physician would have to offer the patient a chance to rescind their request. A consulting physician would then be called upon to certify the original diagnosis, and reaffirm the patient is capable of making a decision.

Assemblyman John Burzichelli said medicine, palliative care and hospice services have changed dramatically since then, and people faced with circumstances like a terminal illness should have the right to control their circumstances and their fate in a way suited to them, their conscience and their faith.

Burzichelli said….“The inevitable truth is that there comes a time for terminally ill patients when medicine no longer heals and barely eases the pain, stripping away that person’s freedom to decide how they would like to live their remaining days,” “This legislation would not compel anyone to end their life because of illness or depression, nor will it force anyone to act against their religious beliefs. This would simply allow individuals the choice of whether or not to end their life peacefully or to suffer through pain and a diminished quality of life.”

New Jersey Right to Life executive director Marie Tasy opposes the measure. After it was approved by the Assembly panel earlier this year, she said medicine can be wrong — and terminally ill people don’t always die within six months, even if a doctor believes that will be the case.

Tasy feels the bill leaves room for abuse by friends and relatives who might have something to gain from the death. She wonders if insurance companies might deny coverage for treatment but pay for assisted suicide, because it would be better for their bottom line.

“What we need to concentrate on is improving end-of-life care,” said Tasy. “We shouldn’t be looking to have people kill themselves.

“Compassionate care is not killing somebody. It’s providing proper medical care that they need at the end of their lives.”

It can be argued that the “end of life care” Tazy speaks of entails as much sedation as possible to allow the patient some modicum of comfort – yet have absolutely no quality of life whatsoever. In other words, allowing the terminally ill patient to live, albeit in a comatose or vegetative state.

It would seem to me to be a far far better thing to allow the terminally ill patient the ability to make the decision as to how they want to live out their days on their own, when they're mentally capable of doing so - assuming they’re of sound mind – than to not have the choice at all.

Could you support New Jersey’s Death With Dignity Act?