TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey bill that would allow doctors to prescribe lethal doses of medication for terminally ill patients wishing to take their own lives cleared an Assembly committee Thursday.
The Health and Senior Services Committee voted 7-2 for the measure. If approved by the legislature, the measure would be put to a popular vote.
Assemblyman John Burzichelli, a Democrat and the bill's sponsor, said it was time to revisit an outdated state statute and give people who are told they have six months to live the choice of how to end their lives.
"When you say suicide, I sense with confidence the average person thinks of a death related to something tragic," Burzichelli told the panel. "For the person facing a terminal condition firmly in control of the circumstances, the ... conclusion every time is not a tragedy."
The proposed Death with Dignity Act would allow doctors to prescribe terminally ill patients lethal doses of medication that the person could then take on their own. The bill is modeled after legislation in Washington and Oregon.
Burzichelli's sister-in-law, Claudia Burzichelli, testified in favor of the measure. She said she has had several family members suffer through terminal illnesses who would have benefited from having the choice to end their lives humanely. She told the story of her father, who after being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, diabetes and other serious illnesses took his own life.