"Allowing residents with terminal illnesses to make end-of-life choices for themselves is the right thing to do," says New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy. And New Jersey is doing "the right thing." As of Aug. 1, medically assisted suicide will be available to irreversibly terminally ill adults in the state who have six months or less to live. The law contains what lawmakers call "safeguards" in place, reports the AP. It mandates that a psychiatrist or psychologist establish that the patient has the mental wherewithal to make the decision; that two doctors OK the request; that the patient twice ask for the medication, once in writing; and that the patient be offered the chance to change his or her mind. Those who qualify will be able to receive a prescription for life-ending pills that must be self-administered.
CNN reports that New Jersey becomes the 8th state to permit this, joining California, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana (which allows it but doesn't have a law on the books), Oregon, Vermont, and Washington, as well as Washington, DC. The group Death With Dignity notes that 20% of Americans now live in a location where medical aid in dying is available to them. Similar bills are being contemplated in 19 other states; New Jersey lawmakers have been trying to get its bill passed since 2012. The AP notes Murphy signed the bill Friday after agreeing to support it, but struggled with his Catholic faith in the process. "I have concluded that, while my faith may lead me to a particular decision for myself, as a public official I cannot deny this alternative to those who may reach a different conclusion," Murphy said in a written statement. (Read more assisted suicide stories.)