January 17, 2015
By Susan K. Livio
Should the state legislature pass the “Aid in Dying” bill that would allow terminally ill patients to obtain a prescription that would end their lives, Gov. Chris Christie said he will consider it, but is unlikely to sign it into law.
During his monthly appearance on New Jersey 101.5’s “Ask the Governor” show Thursday night, a female caller asked the Republican governor to rethink his opposition to physician assisted suicide. The state Assembly and a Senate committee in the last two months have passed the “Aid in Dying” bill, that would allow terminally ill patients to obtain a prescription to end their lives.
“I understand that these are very, very difficult issues and I promise you that I will, if there’s any legislation that comes to my desk from the Legislature, that I will look at it and carefully consider it because of how important the issue is to so many people across the state,” Christie replied.
“But I also don’t want to mislead you,” the governor said. “I have real concerns about this and it goes in line with my general philosophy, which is whether we’re talking about a drug-addicted teenager, whether we’re talking about a homeless adults, whether we’re talking about someone suffering from mental illness, or someone suffering from physical illness, all life is precious and is a gift from God, and no life is disposable. That belief of mine. . .informs my policies in a lot of deferent ways, and always has.”
“And so, we’ll certainly take a look at it, but I don’t want to give you false encouragement either — I have grave concerns about it,” he added.
This is not the first time the governor has stated his opposition to the concept of letting doctors write prescriptions for a lethal dose of medication, but he elaborated more on this perspective during the radio program.
Despite the recent action on the bill, and its sponsorship by state Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester), the highest ranking member in the 40-member body, its fate is uncertain. Several members of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee who voted yes said they were doing so only to give the full Senate a chance to make a decision. Some, including the committee Chairman Joseph Vitale (D-Middlesex) said they would likely vote against it over concerns that people who are not terminally ill might abuse the law.
The governor’s remarks came on the same day that Dan Diaz, the spouse of Brittany Maynard used the law in Oregon to die, visited in the New Jersey and New York area to promote the passage of aid in dying laws. Maynard, 29, diagnosed with an aggressive and untreatable form of brain cancer, took a lethal prescription on Nov. 1 rather than endure the prolonged suffering.