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New Jersey Appeals Court Lets State’s Assisted Suicide Law Continue

Dr. Eddie Fleming, a member of the Catholic Medical Association, applauds after a speech in the New Jersey Statehouse in Trenton as the Aid in Dying bill went to a vote in both chambers of the state Legislature March 25, 2019. (Photo: CNS/Hal Brown/The Monitor)

TRENTON, New Jersey (Catholic News Service) — A New Jersey state appeals court allowed a new law permitting assisted suicide to continue, overturning a lower court decision that temporarily blocked the law.

A pair of judges ruled Aug. 27 that a state Superior Court “abused its discretion” in stopping the law.

The appeals court determined that “the court failed to consider adequately the interests of qualified terminally ill patients, who the Legislature determined have clearly prescribed rights to end their lives consistent with the Act,” the appeals court ruling said.

No immediate reaction to the ruling was available from the New Jersey Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the state’s bishops. The bishops opposed the measure while it was being considered by the New Jersey Legislature.

Attorney Rich Grohmann, representing Dr. Yosef Glassman, who filed the lawsuit against the law, said he planned to file an appeal to the New Jersey Supreme Court, the Associated Press reported.

Gov. Phil Murphy, a Catholic, signed the bill into law April 12, making New Jersey the seventh state allowing assisted suicide.

The law took effect Aug. 1, but a Superior Court judge put it on hold Aug. 14.

Under the law, competent New Jersey residents over age 18 who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness and have six months or less to live – and have medical confirmation of their situation – can get a prescription for a lethal medication to end their life.

Patients will be required to make two separate requests to be approved for the lethal dosage; they also will have the opportunity to rescind their request at any point after receiving approval.

The law requires that patients must administer the drug to themselves. Attending physicians are required to offer other treatment options, including palliative care.