On April 12, 2019, Governor Murphy of New Jersey signed into law the “Medical Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act.” The law, which originally took effect on Aug. 1, 2019, established New Jersey as the eighth state to allow qualified terminally ill patients the option to request and self-administer lethal prescription drugs to “end their lives peacefully, with dignity, and at their own discretion.” (State of New Jersey Press Release, April 12, 2019).
While many refer to “medical aid in dying” as physician assisted suicide or euthanasia, the Act explicitly states that the provisions of this Act “shall not constitute … suicide, assisted suicide, [or] mercy killing … under any law of this State.” (Medical Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act). This creates a situation where you have a doctor advising about lethal medication, prescribing that lethal medication, and a patient self-administering lethal medication, yet it is not “suicide” or “assisting suicide” under the law of New Jersey. Instead, the Act provides that its provisions are to be considered “medical aid in the dying process.” N.J. P.L. 2019, c.59.
While support may be growing for MAID, many people remain vehemently opposed to MAID. Sarah Steele, was told that most people with her prognosis only have three years to live, but that she has survived for 13 years. Her fear is that “a doctor’s ‘educated guess’ could be wrong, which means people may be throwing away years or even decades of their life.” (“Doctor-assisted suicide in New Jersey,” Wilson-Glover, 2019). Also opposed is Dr. Yosef Glassman, a physician who filed a lawsuit seeking to block the law from implementation.