A state appeals court in New Jersey ruled on Tuesday that the state’s newly passed law allowing terminally ill patients to seek life-ending drug can move forward. The ruling overturns a lower court’s recent decision blocking the law.
The law, titled the Medical Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act, would allow patients with terminal disease that will result in death within six months to receive a prescription for life-ending medications. The patient would have to make two verbal requests and one written request to the physician. In order to obtain the medication, the patient must be able to ingest it on their own.
Upon enactment, a lawsuit was filed claiming the act forced doctor’s to act contrary to their religious beliefs. In response, Judge Paul Innes of the Superior Court of New Jersey ordered a temporary block, delaying the law’s original effective date of August 1. The decision was appealed and reviewed by the New Jersey Superior Court’s Appellate Division.
In the opinion issued Tuesday by Judges Carmen Messano and Arnold Natali, the court ruled that the original court abused its discretion when blocking the law. Specifically, the judges wrote the court failed to adequately consider the interests of terminally-ill patients of whom the Legislature gave the right to end their life pursuant to the law. Additionally, the opinion stated the original plaintiff in the lawsuit, Dr. Yosef Glassman, lacked standing to bring the issue before the court.
An attorney for Glassman has stated they plan to appeal this decision to the New Jersey Supreme Court. With this law, New Jersey joins Maine, Oregon, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia in addressing terminally-ill patients’ right to end their life.