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UPDATE FROM NEW JERSEY: The New Jersey Assembly’s Judiciary Committee heard testimony on a PAS bill. Advocates on both side of the PAS battle came out to make their case, but proponents of the dangerous legislation may have the advantage this session. Already the bill’s sponsor is claiming the Assembly could vote in favor of the bill as early as October.

The bill, A1504 – “Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act”, was advanced by legislators out of the Assembly’s Judiciary Committee in March of this year with a 5-2 vote, but no further action has been taken on it since.

In March, the Medical Society of New Jersey came out in opposition of the bill. Chief Operating Officer, Mishael Azam, raised significant concerns with the legislation:

“There is no requirement for a witness to the death. How can we ensure that the patient is in a safe environment and that the medications are taken and work properly?” she wrote. “On the other hand, if the patient is not alone, how do we know he is not coerced to take the medication, or even given the medication without consent? A terminally ill patient should not be exposed to such a risk.”

PAS legalization bills have been filed in New Jersey since 2012, but have been blocked every time. Former Governor Chris Christie had always proudly exclaimed that he would likely veto the bill if it ever made it to his desk. But now times have changed. Newly elected Governor Phil Murphy has been much more receptive to PAS and said he would sign a bill into law.

In an opinion article on NorthJersey.com, Kate Blisard, a board member of Not Dead Yet, urged legislators to reject the bill:

“Proponents claim this is a compassionate law that is limited in scope and has a number of safeguards. That characterization is not only inaccurate; it fails to recognize some very serious problems in both its language and implementation. The New Jersey bill is modeled after the law enacted in Oregon in 1997 and, since then, a generation of disability rights advocates have been trying to sound the alarm over this horribly dangerous and discriminatory law.”

This bill is bad news for New Jersey, as well as any state considering similar legislation – including Maryland. Please reach out to your friends and family in New Jersey and have them call and email their legislators to oppose this bill.

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