In New Jersey, a new law has taken effect as of August 2019. This will allow residents with a terminal illness to request a prescription for medical aid in ending their life.
Susan Boyce was among the group of people representing the nonprofit group, Compassion & Choices, which testified at legislative hearings to convince state lawmakers that patients and their doctors should be allowed to make the intimate decision to end their life.
Susan was diagnosed with a slow-moving and incurable auto-immune disease at 42 years old. This disease makes breathing almost impossible. Fourteen years after her diagnosis, Susan now wears an oxygen tube, all day every day, and needs to keep a wheelchair close by.
She has had to give up two of her passions, swimming, and sailing, and now at 56 years old, Susan is working alongside Compassion & Choices, so that she will be able to decide how her final days will unfold, when she feels that her time has come “to end that last bit of suffering.”.
This legal form of assisted death has already been recognized in many other states and countries, giving many people the right to die – when they believe it is time.
There will be many questions from patients, with the passing of this new law, and Compassion & Choices is working to properly inform patients of how this process works while clearing up any misconceptions.
While this conversation is hard to have, it’s an important one. Patients should have options when facing an ever-declining quality of health. This law will apply to adults who have received a terminal diagnosis, which is incurable, irreversible and is medically confirmed that this disease would inevitably lead to death within six months.
In order for this medication to be prescribed, patients will need to ask their doctor two times, over a span of 15 days and additionally submit a request in writing, stating that they are informed of available palliative care, pain control and other alternatives.
Written language for this request will state:
“I understand the full import of this request, and I expect to die if and when I take the medication to be prescribed. I further understand that, although most deaths occur within three hours, my death may take longer and my physician has counseled me about this possibility.”
This written declaration would require two witnesses who can attest that the patient is acting voluntarily, and these witnesses cannot be someone who would benefit from a financial gain with this patient’s death.
It’s our human right to choose our end when faced with a terminal illness. This new law will allow patients to make the choice that is right for them, and if they do choose to go this route, they can end their pain and suffering, and have loved ones around for this planned passing.
- N.J. will let terminally ill patients decide when it’s time to die, beginning Thursday https://www.nj.com/healthfit/2019/07/nj-will-let-terminally-patients-decide-when-its-time-to-die-beginning-thursday.html
- The N.J. Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Implementation Toolkit http://www.njha.com/resources/toolkits/the-nj-aid-in-dying-for-the-terminally-ill-implementation-toolkit/
- The next frontier in the ‘right to die’: advance requests, minors and the mentally ill https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/maid-assisted-death-minors-mental-illness-1.4956388
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