New Jersey approves bill for terminally-ill patients

By Staff Writer Tamendy Raymond. One of the most controversial American bill subjects of the last 50 years is once again in the news. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy will soon sign a bill into legislation allowing terminally ill patients to seek life ending medication. New Jersey will be the sixth state, including the District of Columbia, to have similar laws once the bill is signed. Since 2012, lawmakers have been trying to advance this legislation and were unsuccessful for some time. Around 2014, however, the bill got some attention when a story broke on a 29-year-old woman named Brittany Maynard, who was terminally ill with brain cancer. This drew news coverage when it was publicized that she and her husband relocated so she could use the Oregon law to end her life on her own terms. This created attention nation-wide. Now that this bill will pass in New Jersey, the state’s residents with a prognosis of six months or less to live could potentially request the life-ending medication. Opponents, however, argue that the bill will hurt the most vulnerable people in society and that the state should instead work to improve its health care system. Executive Director of Patient’s Rights Action Fund says, “New Jersey ought to be investing in better care and support at the end of life, not enshrining this dangerous public policy into law,” stated Matt Valliere, a representative of the fund. “Supporters say the new law would let qualified patients decide to end their own lives in a dignified manner,” according to reporter Tamala Edwards. Democratic state Senator Nicholas Scutari said in a statement, “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.” There are several measures under this new legislation, which include the detail that patients are required to make two requests, along with a chance to rescind their request. It was not specified when Governor Murphy will sign the bill, but it won over the New Jersey Senate with a 21 to 16 vote. Even as the bill’s popularity begins to creep through the United States, votes as close as that show that it won’t be a large majority anytime soon. What does this bill’s passing say about our future in the healthcare system? Will this create further neglect or will it increase care for patients since there is a bypass in the system? Are both patients and medical examiners giving up? On the other hand, it is not fair to the patient to continuously be forced to keep going and hoping when he or she is physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually incapable. But where is the line drawn? In this case, who will be their support? Who will be on their team to let them know they can make it through whatever trials and tribulations they are facing? Who knows what the future has in store? This could in fact be one out of the many battles he or she is facing. How can we evaluate effort and fair practice? So many unanswered questions. All we can do, is simply wait and see how each story unfolds.

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