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New Jersey

Current Status

On February 4, 2016, New Jersey Assemblyman John Burzichelli(D-Gloucester), with Tim Eustace (D-Bergen) and Joe Danielsen (D-Somerset) as primary sponsors and 8 additional co-sponsors, introduced A 2451, Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act. After referral to the Health and Senior Services Committee, the Assembly bill was transferred to the Appropriations Committee which passed it on October 6, 2016. On October 20, 2016, the full Assembly passed the bill on a 41 to 28 vote, with 5 abstentions. The vote was nearly identical to and came almost exactly two years after an up vote on a previous bill (see below). A2451 then headed to the Senate where it was heard and passed 5 to 3, with 1 abstention, in the Health, Human Services, and Senior Citizens Committee on November 3, 2016.

The companion physician-assisted dying bill in the New Jersey Senate is S 2474, sponsored by Senators Nicholas Scutari (D-Union) and Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-West Deptford). The Senate version was reported favorably (passed) by the Senate Health, Human Services, and Senior Citizens Committee on November 3, 2016.

History

On November 13, 2014, the New Jersey Assembly approved AB 2270, the Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act, 41 to 31, with 8 abstentions; Governor Chris Christie indicated he would veto any Death with Dignity bills. In January 2015, a companion bill S 382 was introduced in the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee with amendments. The bill did not come up for a vote in the Senate by the January 12, 2016, deadline; failing to meet this legislative deadline effectively killed the bill.

The 2014-2015 session was the second time a Death with Dignity bill was considered in the New Jersey legislature. Companion bills AB 3328 and SB 2259 were introduced in the 2012-2013 session; both died in Committee.

The Death with Dignity movement got its most significant spur in recent history in New Jersey. In 1976, the Supreme Court of New Jersey ruled that the parents of comatose Karen Ann Quinlan could remove her life support.

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