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It's Now Legal for the Terminally Ill to End Their Lives in This State

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed the law in April; it went into effect today
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 1, 2019 11:05 AM CDT
In this Jan. 15, 2019, file photo, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy delivers remarks during his first State of the State address in Trenton, NJ.   (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

(Newser) – It's now legal for terminally ill New Jersey adults to end their lives with a doctor's help. Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, signed the Medical Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act back in April, and it went into effect Thursday, CNN reports. The bill passed with the minimum number of yes votes in the state Assembly and Senate after making it to the state Senate for the first time since legislators started trying to pass versions of it in 2012, ABC News reports. Under the new law, adults who have less than six months to live can get a prescription for medication they can take at home that will end their lives. Patients are required to administer the drugs themselves, although a physician can offer palliative care.

The law requires that the person make two requests for the medication, at least one of which is in writing and signed by two witnesses. At least one of those witnesses can't be a family member, a person entitled to any part of the patient's estate, an owner or worker at the facility treating the patient, or the patient's doctor. Two doctors must sign off on the request, and a mental health professional must determine the patient has the mental capacity for such a decision. Patients must also be allowed a chance to rescind their request. Physician-assisted suicide is also legal in California, Colorado, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, Hawaii, Montana, and the District of Columbia. Maine also recently legalized assisted suicide, but the law has not yet gone into effect, per ABC. (Read more assisted suicide stories.)

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