New Jersey’s Assisted Suicide Law Prompts Ethical Questions

On August 1, New Jersey will allow terminally ill adult residents to request prescriptions from their doctors for medication to end their lives, but questions remain…

…Under the law, psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers can complete the evaluation, however it’s important to note that very few of these providers have specific training with end-of-life issues.

Studies done in Oregon, which passed the first such law in 1994, have shown that mental health professionals may lack the experience, training, knowledge, and confidence to ethically participate in consultations surrounding physician aid in dying…

Access to hospice and palliative care here is relatively limited.

Across the nation, there are too few home health aides, social workers’ caseloads are exploding, and employees in both fields are underpaid. I would feel better about the law if it was accompanied by a robust effort to improve the flagging aging, health, and social services infrastructure.

The data from other states show that many people rescind their request for physician aid in dying after they have met with specialists to better manage their symptoms of pain, depression, and anxiety, which speaks for the need to complement this bill with better access to high-quality end-of-life care.

Read more at Futurity.org…

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