March 26 (UPI) — New Jersey lawmakers approved a bill to allow terminally ill patients who want to end their life to receive aid to do so from doctors.
The New Jersey State Assembly passed the “Medical Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act,” by a 41-33 vote Monday, NJ.com reported. The New Jersey Senate approved the bill by a 21-16 vote minutes later.
The bill allows terminally ill patients who choose to die to request lethal prescriptions from physicians.
“This State affirms the right of a qualified terminally ill patient, protected by appropriate safeguards, to obtain medication that the patient may choose to self-administer in order to bring about the patient’s humane and dignified death,” the bill states.
Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy announced that he would sign the bill into law.
“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,” Murphy said. “I look forward to signing this legislation into law.”
Republican Assemblyman Jay Webber raised concern about elderly people supporting assisted suicide because they don’t want to be a burden on loved ones.
Still, Democratic Assemblyman John Burzichelli, a co-sponsor of the bill, argued that there are enough safeguards in place to protect senior citizens’ rights to make their own decisions.
With Murphy’s approval, New Jersey would become the eighth state to enact so-called right-to-die laws.
A separate bill to legalize marijuana that Murphy has supported failed to gain traction Monday, NJ.com reported.
Senate President Stephen Sweeney canceled a vote after he was unable to gather enough votes for the legislation.
Still, Murphy said he would soon move to expand the medical marijuana program in the state, according to NJ.com.