Doctors would be allowed to prescribe lethal drugs to terminally ill patients who want to end their lives under a bill passed Thursday in New Jersey’s Assembly.
Lawmakers approved the measure by a 41-31 vote.
The bill establishes a procedure for patients to request to end their lives. A second doctor would have to certify the original terminal diagnosis and confirm the patient is capable of making the decision to die without pressure from others.
Assemblyman Pat Diegnan spoke out passionately in favor of the bill, referring to the suffering of his terminally ill mother who wanted to die.
She was bedridden for two months and weighed only 50 pounds when she passed away.
“Anyone that would say it was not compassionate to give her the ability to end that suffering, I really cannot comprehend,” said Diegnan, D-Middlesex.
Assemblyman Jay Webber, who voted against the bill, said he’s concerned that the right to die might become the obligation to die.
“‘People at the end of their lives might feel that they’re a burden to others, a burden to their family members, a burden to taxpayers and decide that maybe they ought to think about prematurely ending their lives,” said Webber, R-Morris.
The legislation is stalled in the state Senate and there’s no indication when it might advance.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.