TRENTON, N.J. – Before the Assembly voted on permitting assisted suicide, Republicans took a stand against the bill. Several legislators pleaded with their colleagues on the other side of the aisle to maintain life with dignity rather than death. Many agreed with their plea, as Democrats had to whip one more vote for the bill to pass 41-33.
Assemblyman Jay Webber gave a passionate speech. He attested that every life is worth living, and ending it prematurely is not the respect and cherishment that people deserve. He motioned to table the bill indefinitely. It was voted down 46-28.
“If we as a body believe that every person in this state is worth something, it doesn’t matter how disabled you are, how much pain you’re in, or even what you think of yourself,” said Webber (R-Morris). “If we think everybody in this state is worth something, then that means they are worth something until the very moment they leave this earth.”
Assemblyman Christopher DePhillips shared a personal story about his father’s battle with cancer. Told that there was only a few weeks left to live, his father persevered for five more years.
“Let’s not allow patients to take their own lives,” said DePhillips (R-Bergen). “The bill violates a physician’s Hippocratic Oath. This bill is inconsistent with the doctor’s role as healer.”
Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso expressed concern for sending patients home with lethal medications to end their lives. She believes that every New Jerseyan’s life should be protected, especially when they cannot protect themselves.
“I watched my father pass from kidney cancer,” said DiMaso (R-Monmouth). “And while I would have done anything to take away the pain and suffering, this bill isn’t it.”
Assemblyman Joe Howarth also spoke against the bill, detailing cases of patients living beyond their prognosis as examples of the many problems with physician assisted suicide. Two of those cases were stories about his own family.
“This bill is not the answer,” said Howarth (R-Burlington). “The most precious gift that we have is life. In fact, it is one the inalienable rights stated in the declaration of independence.”