New Jersey becomes 7th state to permit assisted suicide

Gov. Phil Murphy (D) on Friday made New Jersey the seventh state in the nation to permit assisted suicide when he signed a law allowing terminally ill patients to end their life.

Murphy signed the Aid in Dying for the Terminal Act on Friday, which will go into effect on Aug. 1.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Allowing residents with terminal illnesses to make end-of-life choices for themselves is the right thing to do,” Murphy said 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 law will allow patients to obtain and self-administer medication to end their lives, though their attending and consulting physicians must first determine that the patient has a life expectancy of six months or less, has the capacity to make health care decisions and is acting voluntarily. The patient must also request the medication twice and be offered the chance to change their mind. 

The legislation passed the state Assembly by a 41-33 margin and the state Senate with a 21-16 vote.

Murphy, a Catholic, said he had mixed feelings about the law.

“I have concluded that, while my faith may lead me to a particular decision for myself, as a public official I cannot deny this alternative to those who may reach a different conclusion,” Murphy wrote in his signing statement. “I believe this choice is a personal one and, therefore, signing this legislation is the decision that best respects the freedom and humanity of all New Jersey residents.” 

Oregon, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Vermont, Washington State and the District of Columbia all have similar right to die laws on the books.