BOTH chambers of New Jersey’s state Legislature have passed a bill allowing assisted suicide – much to the dismay of the Catholic Church.
The state’s Democratic Governor Phil Murphy, above, who had a “strict Catholic upbringing”, said he will sign the bill.
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. I look forward to signing this legislation into law.
This, despite NJ Catholic leaders who have been standing in firm opposition to the bill. A spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Newark said:
Assisted suicide promotes neither free choice nor compassion. Every gift of human life is sacred, from conception to natural death, and the life and dignity of every person must be respected and protected at every stage and in every condition. Catholics should be leaders in the effort to defend and uphold the principle that each of us has a right to live with dignity through every day of our lives.
The bill will allow adults to receive life-ending drugs if they have been told by a doctor that they have less than six months to live. The bill was written by Assemblyman John Burzichelli, above, who has been attempting to pass the legislation for nearly seven years. He is also a staunch supporter of gay and transgender rights.The Medical Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act passed with bipartisan support. The New Jersey Assembly voted 41 to 33 to pass the bill, with the Senate passing the measure 21 to 16.
Critics of the legislation argue that it opens the door for abuse and does not require psychiatric evaluation of patients who may be struggling with depression that is leading to suicidal inclinations.
Although the bill has been passed and the Governor has issued his intent to sign it into law, Cheryl Riley, director of the Archdiocese of Newark’s Respect Life Office, said that her office will not be backing down.
We’re still not going to stop fighting. Every life deserves to be protected.
The Church’s opposition to assisted suicide is longstanding. In 1980, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a “Declaration on Euthanasia” that fully explained that the Church is opposed to the practice.
It is necessary to state firmly once more that nothing and no one can in any way permit the killing of an innocent human being, whether a fetus or an embryo, an infant or an adult, an old person, or one suffering from an incurable disease, or a person who is dying.
Furthermore, no one is permitted to ask for this act of killing, either for himself or herself or for another person entrusted to his or her care, nor can he or she consent to it, either explicitly or implicitly. Nor can any authority legitimately recommend or permit such an action.
Once the law is signed, New Jersey will join a handful of other states that allow medical professionals to prescribe lethal drugs. Currently, assisted suicide is legal in Oregon, Washington, California, Vermont, Colorado, Hawaii and the District of Columbia, as well as in Montana through a state Supreme Court ruling.