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New Jersey

Current Status

New Jersey’s Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act took effect on August 1, 2019 and is in effect pending litigation (see Legal Challenge below). Patients may access and physicians may prescribe medications under the law.

New Jersey is the 8th jurisdiction to have a death with dignity statute; one in five Americans now live where the option is available.

The New Jersey Medical Society remains opposed to death with dignity.

Legal Challenge

2019

  • August 27 – The New Jersey Appellate Court lifts the temporary restraining order on the Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act. Hours later, the New Jersey Supreme Court denies the plaintiff’s appeal of the Appellate Court’s ruling.
  • August 20 – New Jersey Supreme Court declines the AG’s petition to allow the Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act to be in effect while the lawsuit resolves in the court, instead sending the matter to the state’s Appellate Court to decide whether the law should be overturned.
  • August 16 – New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal files an appeal to a temporary restraining order on the Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act.
  • August 15 – Mercer County Superior Court Judge Paul Innes issues a temporary restraining order on the new law. Implementation of the law is halted at least until October 23, 2019.

Resources and Additional Information

About the Statute

About Implementation

Resources for Patients

Resources for Physicians and Pharmacists

All forms are courtesy of the New Jersey Department of Health.

History of Aid in Dying in New Jersey

2018-2019

A group of legislators* introduced A1504,Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act in the New Jersey Assembly on January 9, 2018. The bill was referred to New Jersey Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee and later transferred to the Judiciary Committee. On March 12, 2018, the Committee heard and passed the bill 5 to 2. On January 31, 2019, the Assembly approved Am. Johnson’s amendments to the pending bill.

A companion bill, S1072, New Jersey Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act, was introduced on January 22, 2018. The bill was referred to New Jersey Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee, which on February 7, 2019 passed it 6 to 3.

A floor vote on S1072/A1504, Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act, in both chambers took place on March 25, 2019. The Assembly passed the bill 41 to 33; the Senate 21 to 16.

Shortly thereafter, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy stated he would sign the bill, saying

Allowing terminally ill and dying residents the dignity to make end-of-life decisions according to their own consciences is the right thing to do. I look forward to signing this legislation into law.

Governor Murphy signed the Act into law on Friday, April 12, 2019.

*Bill Sponsors

  • A1504: Assemblymembers John Burzichelli (D-Gloucester), Joe Danielsen (D-Somerset), and Tim Eustace (D-Bergen) and as primary sponsors, with Assemblymembers Annette Chaparro (D-33), Jamel Holley (D-20), Mila Jasey (D-27), Angelica Jimenez (D-32), Gordon Johnson (D-37), John McKeon (D-27), and Gabriela Mosquera (D-4) as co-sponsors
  • S1072: Senators Nicholas Scutari (D-Union) and Richard Codey (D-27)

On June 6, 2019, New Jersey Assemblymember Robert Auth (R) and three co-sponsors introduced a bill aiming to repeal the Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act before it goes into effect.

2016-2017

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 A2451, Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act on February 4, 2016, After referral to the Health and Senior Services Committee, the Assembly bill was transferred to the Appropriations Committee which passed it 8 to 2 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 was S2474, 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. The bill did not come up for a floor vote.

2014-2015

On November 13, 2014, the New Jersey Assembly approved A2270, 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 S382 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.

A February 2015 poll Rutgers-Eagleton poll found that 63 percent of New Jersey residents support aid-in-dying legislation.

Pre-2014

The 2014-2015 session was the second time a death with dignity bill was considered in the New Jersey legislature. Companion bills A3328 and S2259 were introduced in the 2012-2013 session; both died in Committee. The first time a bill was introduced was in 2012.

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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