New Jersey approves bill allowing terminally ill patients the right to die

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) on Monday announced he will approve a bill that allows physicians to provide lethal prescriptions to terminally ill patients who want to die.

“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 Monday. “I look forward to signing this legislation into law.”

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Shortly before his statement, the New Jersey state Assembly passed the “Medical Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act” in a 41-33 vote on Monday, according to NJ.com.

The state Senate reportedly passed the bill in a 21-16 vote minutes later. 

Susan Boyce, a 55-year-old woman from Rumson who has been diagnosed with a terminal autoimmune disease, told the local publication that she has been “working on this quite a while.” 

Boyce, who needs an oxygen tank in order to breathe, said that having the law is “something I want the option of.”

“I don’t know what’s in store for me,” she said.

During a debate prior to the vote, state Assemblyman Jay Webber (R) called on his colleagues to delay the vote on the measure. 

“Once you cross this line, Mr. Speaker, there is no going back,” Webber said, according to the NJ.com.

Webber argued that some elderly people support assisted suicide because they don’t want to be a burden to their family and friends.

“Don’t make the right to die an obligation to die,” he said.

However, state Assemblyman John Burzichelli (D), who co-sponsored the legislation, argued that the state has enough safeguards in place to protect those most vulnerable.

“The right of self-determination stands firms no matter what … we control our destiny,” Burzichelli said.

The legislation will go into effect four months after being signed by Murphy.