The issue of doctor-assisted suicide is talked about by both ordinary citizens and the politicians who represent them. Whether for it or against it, both sides argue passionately about the topic and the implications of passed legislation.
The state of New Jersey has taken this issue a step further than closed-door conversations by introducing legislation that would give terminally ill patients the right to end their own lives. The Assembly Appropriations Committee voted 8-2 in favor of the bill and is awaiting a vote from the House Assembly and the Senate. Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey, would also have to sign the bill in order for it to become a law.
The bill is filled with details and restrictions that the assembly hopes will answer everyone’s questions and concerns. The most obvious being that a person, having six months or less to live, is at least eighteen years old, a New Jersey resident, and clearly capable of making his or her own medical decisions. That person must also make at least two verbal requests to his or her doctor that are at least fifteen days apart.
The other rules deal with determining whether or not that person is mentally fit enough to make the decision and ensuring that they are absolutely certain once the decision is made. Proponents of this legislation say that it is all about choice. End-of-life organizations like Compassion and Choices, liberal religious groups such as the United Church of Christ, and people with severe illnesses all understand if a sick person decides to tough it out and chooses to keep on fighting; however, they want people to have every option available to them and believe that they should be allowed to ask for doctor-assisted suicide if they feel that it is appropriate.
Of course, there is also major opposition to this bill. The Medical Society of New Jersey, the National Disability Rights Network, and religious denominations like the Roman Catholic Church do not want to see this bill passed because of their strong feelings against suicide and because of possible risks for coercion and force. A lot of people, particularly Republicans, place a high priority on the role of God in a person’s life. They believe that a person should die whenever God decides that it is the right time to for them to go. By having doctor-assisted suicide, a person can bypass God’s will and voluntarily choose to end their life. This is what many people are afraid of and want to avoid taking place in states around the country.
However, despite the protests, it appears that doctor-assisted suicide could become more commonplace over the next couple of years. California, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Vermont have already passed legislation about this issue, and twenty-five other states around the country are considering doing the same. It seems that the argument for personal choice is starting to take hold, and now many people who would have suffered in pain are able to choose the best path for them and their families.