Measure allowing terminally ill patients access to life-ending drugs advances in N.J.

 Morristown resident Dawn Parkot testifies before the New Jersey Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee against the Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act. (Phil Gregory/ for NewsWorks)

Morristown resident Dawn Parkot testifies before the New Jersey Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee against the Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act. (Phil Gregory/ for NewsWorks)

A New Jersey Assembly committee has advanced legislation that would allow terminally ill patients to obtain medication to end their lives.

Operating room nurse Debra Dunn, who said her husband died after suffering the pain of pancreatic cancer, testified that terminally ill mentally competent adults should have the right to choose a humane and peaceful death.

“My husband was terribly afraid of dying, but he also told me he didn’t want to suffer,” said Dunn of Paramus. “I know if he had a choice, he would have chosen aid in dying. Just being empowered with the option would have given him comfort and a sense of control”

Not all were in agreement.

Seated in her wheelchair, Morristown resident Dawn Parkot testified through a communications device that she is concerned the measure will raise the potential for a dangerous situation.

“Who can confirm that the assisted suicide choice was freely made when the only witness is dead?” said Parkot who has cerebral palsy.

And some patients are misdiagnosed and could make an irreversible decision to die based on the wrong information, opponents of the measure said.

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