TRENTON, N.J. – In a letter sent to the Gov. Phil Murphy Wednesday, Assemblyman Christopher DePhillips and Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso seek additional protections to legislation recently passed by the Legislature allowing terminally ill patients to seek life-ending medication.
They are asking the governor to use his veto to advocate for their recommendations including:
– A psychological evaluation of patients to ensure they are not committing suicide for emotional reasons, such as depression.
– Demanding physicians oversee the administration of the terminal drugs, rather than simply prescribing the drugs then wiping their hands of the patient’s needs.
– Allowing doctors and pharmacists to opt out of the requirements on the basis of moral or conscientious objections.
– Prohibiting Insurers from denying health coverage or emergency treatment after the lethal drug has been prescribed or been made available.
– Having hospice facilities consult with appropriate health care professionals on behalf of their patients before being given the lethal dose.
The bill passed each chamber with the minimum number of votes: 21 in the Senate and 41 in the Assembly. DePhillips and DiMaso took a stand against it shortly before the state Assembly voted on Monday.
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.”
DiMaso expressed concern for sending patients home with lethal medications to end their lives.
“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.”
For a copy of the letter, click HERE.