New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy plans to sign legislation allowing terminally ill patients to seek life-ending medication.
The New Jersey Senate approved the "Medical Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act" in a 21-16 vote Monday. Gov. Murphy said in a statement that he supports the measure and would sign it into law.
“Allowing terminally ill and dying residents the dignity to make end-of-life decisions according to their own consciences is the right thing to do,” Murphy said.
Democratic senators Nicholas Scutari, Richard Codey and Senate President Steve Sweeney all sponsored the legislation.
"This is a humane and dignified process that respects the free will of terminally ill patients," Senator Scutari (D-Union) said. "We should permit qualified patients to make the decision to end their own lives in a dignified manner. There is no good reason for them to be forced to prolong their pain and suffering or to prolong the grief of their loved ones if they make that choice."
The bill defines a terminal disease as an irreversible disease that has been medically confirmed and will result in a patient’s death within six months. The bill includes several measures that legislators called "safeguards," which include requiring patients to make two requests, along with a chance to rescind the request.
New Jersey would join six states and the District of Columbia with similar laws once the bill is signed. Lawmakers have tried unsuccessfully since at least 2012 to advance the legislation.
Opponents argue the bill will hurt the most vulnerable in society.