Senate to Take up Discussion of Bill Monday in Committee
(TRENTON) — Assemblyman John J. Burzichelli (D-Gloucester) issued a multimedia package Friday in which he discusses his legislation that would give terminally ill New Jerseyans the options to end their life with a physician’s help.
The bill (A-2270) would require patients suffering from a terminal disease 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. In addition, 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.
A patient must have a prognosis of six months or less to live to request and be prescribed medication under the bill.
The General Assembly recently passed the legislation 41-31, and the Senate is set to discuss the legislation in committee Monday afternoon.
The multimedia package consists of a video of Burzichelli talking about his legislation and audio and a transcript of same.
The audio file is available upon request.
A transcript of comments is appended below:
Assemblyman John J. Burzichelli (D-Gloucester), Assembly Appropriations Committee Chairman:
“Well, people around New Jersey have spoken very clearly that they would like to have a choice in addition to palliative care and hospice for end of life decision making.
“It’s a very personal choice. And the choice I speak of is to ask your physician to assist you, with a prescription, that would allow you to ingest, by your own hand, and would allow you to end your life.
“So, the bill is crafted after the Oregon bill, which has gotten a lot of attention recently, and there are safeguards that are in place. You have to be terminally ill, with six months or less left to live. There’s a process of request and there’s a 15-day wait period before you get a prescription then you have to get filled – and you have to self-administer. And this is only available to someone who is 18 years of age and older. And you have to be of sound mind. And so, this choice would then be available in New Jersey, if it passes both the senate and if the governor were to sign it.
“And it became clear to me, based on public opinion and polling, that New Jerseyans wanted another choice. There’s a place for palliative care, there’s a place for hospice, and there appears to be a place for another option. And so, that’s what the discussion was.
“So, for me, it was really very narrow. I’m a lawmaker. This is about where the statute is. This is about what the law says. This is a secular law discussion. Should the statute be amended to allow a person to ask the physician for assistance in aid in dying under very narrow circumstances? It doesn’t mean that everyone would make that choice and I don’t advocate either way of what choice should be made. It’s not my call. The only person I should be associated with related to that choice is me. And that’s what this legislation would ensure.
“So, this is about personal control and personal choice. And we’ve also exempted out doctors who philosophically may be opposed. They don’t have to participate. We’ve exempted out hospitals. We’ve exempted out pharmacies. So a person who may want to make this choice, if it were signed into law, is going to have to carefully select their health care professionals and build that whole system in place for themselves.
“So, I think we have done sound law work here, independent of what people’s opinion may be as to whether or not they would make that choice. And that’s their decision. So I don’t try to convert anyone to suggest you should make a choice, I just speak about where the law should be.”