Lack of clarity on referral is unsatisfactory
New Jersey’s Medical Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act1 came into effect on 1 August, 2019.2
The Act permits physician assisted suicide for any resident of New Jersey who is 18 years of age or over, who can make and communicate informed health care decisions, who has been diagnosed with a terminal illness and who is likely to die within six months. Physicians assist by providing a prescription for lethal medication. The patient must make two oral requests for the medication 15 days apart, and a written request. Two physicians must agree that the patient is decisionally competent and meets the medical criteria. Additional consultation is required if there is concern about psychological or psychiatric conditions that may impair a patient’s judgement. . .[Full text]
Rabbi Yosef P. Glassman, MD, of Bergenfield, has won a lawsuit to temporarily stop the New Jersey Medical Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act that had been scheduled to take effect on August 16. The law would allow physicians, under certain conditions, to prescribe drugs to terminally ill patients for the sole purpose of ending their lives. But the battle has just begun.
In an email interview, Rabbi Dr. Glassman explained why he initiated the lawsuit. “I was motivated to act by the chilling prospect of being a part of the suicide process, which strongly conflicted with both my professional and religious values. I was fortunate enough to engage in meaningful discussions with several concerned Jewish community members on the topic, and I decided to take a firm position, being involved in the field of geriatrics. Some people who may oppose my action may say that I want dying patients to suffer, chas v’shalom. Quite the opposite—we as physicians have ample tools to alleviate the suffering for the living, even for the terminally ill, without the need to license suicide.” . . . [Full text]
A U.S. Department of Health and Human Services proposed rule that would more vigorously protect health care providers’ ability to deny coverage in certain circumstances because of moral or religious beliefs should be withdrawn, according to a coalition of state attorneys general.
The proposed rule would strengthen the enforcement of existing regulations that allow providers to invoke conscientious objections as a basis for refusing to provide care that involves certain medical issues, including abortion, sterilization, assisted suicide and others. It also would allow individual providers to object to informing patients about their medical options or referring them to providers of those options. . . [Full Text]
Assembly Bill 2270 (2014) Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act
Some protection of conscience provisions are found in an assisted suicide bill introduced in the New Jersey legislature. While at first glance the definition of “health care professional” appears to provide protection for nurses, licensed practical nurses and others, the protection is limited by the definition of “participating in this act” or “participation in this act” to physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists and pharmacists.
Further, the definition of “participating in this act” or “participation in this act” excludes referral, so it would appear that the bill could be understood to require objectors to facilitate assisted suicide by referral.
Section 25 provides protection for health care facilities that will not allow assisted suicide on their premises for reasons of conscience or religion.