A slight majority of New Jerseyans support legislation that would give terminally ill people with a short time to live the option of legally taking their own lives, according to a Fairleigh Dickinson University's PublicMind poll released Monday.

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"Fifty-one percent say they think policymakers should support the legislation that gives someone with fewer than six months to live the option to end his or her own life with the help of a doctor," said Krista Jenkins, director of PublicMind and professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University. "A little more than a third, or 38 percent, are opposed to the legislation."

The measure, Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act, would require terminally ill patients with six months or less to live, to verbally ask for a prescription from their doctor. That would be followed by a second verbal request at least 15 days later, and one written request signed by two witnesses. The doctor would have to offer the patient a chance to change their mind, and another physician would have to certify the original diagnosis and reaffirm the patient is of sound mind. The patient would have to self-administer the drugs.

The bill was passed by the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee in June.

The survey also asked respondents if they would like to have the legal choice to take their own life under those circumstances. The answers closely mirror residents' support or opposition to the bill.

"Fifty-three percent say they'd want the option to end their own life if they were to end up with a terminal illness and have a short time to live. We also found that around four in 10, or 39 percent, say they would not want the option," Jenkins said.

There is not a lot of awareness when it comes to the legislation. Only 26 percent said they are paying "a lot" or "some" attention to the issue, while 73 percent admitted they are paying little or no attention to the bill.

The measure awaits consideration by the full Assembly.