Assisted Suicide Bill Dies in New Jersey Senate
An important victory that bolsters opposition nationwide
Trenton, NJ – “The New Jersey Alliance Against Doctor-Prescribed Suicide applauds the New Jersey Senate for recognizing the dangers to older people and those with disabilities and allowing S 382, legislation to legalize assisted suicide, to die without a vote on the floor of the Senate,” stated Kate Blisard of Not Dead Yet. “People are surprised to learn that all major national disability groups that have taken a position on the issue oppose the legalization of assisted suicide because the dangers of misdiagnosis, coercion and abuse put us at great risk.”
“A bi-partisan group of New Jersey Senators took the time to listen to the disability-rights community and to understand why it is important that doctor-prescribed suicide not become law in New Jersey,” continued Democratic Senator Peter Barnes. “It became clear that this bill would have a detrimental impact on vulnerable populations and expose them to abuse, coercion and possible denial of health care because it costs more than suicide drugs. While the bill’s few, vocal supporters educated legislators as to their personal concerns, it became clear that there are other solutions than doctor-prescribed suicide to address end-of-life pain. For that reason, there was never a groundswell of support for this bill and, on balance, we heard from many more voices opposed to this bill.”
The New Jersey Alliance exposed the following flaws in S 382:
- No requirement of mental health evaluation or pain relief consultation.
- Permits an heir to witness a death request.
- Requires no oversight on whether the patient was willing to take the lethal drugs.
- No requirement that a medical person be present to supervise the ingestion of lethal drugs.
- Allows a third party familiar with how the patient communicates to make the death request.
- Permits lethal drugs to remain in a patient’s home without securing them.
- Relies on the inaccurate premise that a doctor can predict death within six months.
- No distinction as to whether the death prediction is with or without treatment of the patient.
- No required notification of family members.
- Immunizes from prosecution anyone participating in administering lethal drugs, even if their participation was coercive and out of self-interest
- Falsely certifies the cause of death.
The New Jersey Alliance Against Doctor-Prescribed Suicide is a broadly-based, diverse coalition of organizations strongly opposed to the legalization of assisted suicide. Alliance organizations include:
Resources for Independent Living
Dial, Inc. Center for Independence
Center for Independent Living
Heightened Independence and Progress – Bergen
Heightened Independence and Progress — Hudson
Progressive Center for Independent Living
Total Living Center
National Council on Independent Living
Not Dead Yet
Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund
Autistic Self Advocacy Network
Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living
United Spinal Association
New Jersey Catholic Conference
New Jersey Right to Life
New Jersey Family Policy Council
American Academy of Medical Ethics