Terminally ill adults in New Jersey will now be able to ask for medical help to end their lives.
Gov. Phil Murphy has signed the Medical Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act. And the law goes into effect August 1.
It will allow adults with a prognosis of six months or less to live to get a prescription for life-ending medication.
This makes New Jersey the ninth jurisdiction to allow physician-assisted suicide. The others include: California, Colorado, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, Hawaii, Montana and the District of Columbia.
The law requires either a psychiatrist or psychologist must determine that the patient has the mental capacity to make the decision. The prescription is a series of self-administered pills that can be taken at home.
“Allowing residents with terminal illnesses to make end-of-life choices for themselves is the right thing to do,” said Governor Murphy in a statement. “By signing this bill today, we are providing terminally ill patients and their families with the humanity, dignity, and respect that they so richly deserve at the most difficult times any of us will face.”
The bill narrowly passed in the Senate, and some who voted against it are apprehensive about its effects.
“The bill has lasting ramifications and lots of loopholes,” said Republican Sen. Robert Singer. “We are so concerned about opioids, and not trusting doctors with opioids. But now we are willing to trust them with this.”
New Jersey legislators have tried passing versions of this bill since 2014, but this was the first time the bill went to a vote in the senate.
Nineteen other states are considering physician-assisted suicide bills.