Colorado Rejects Physician Assisted Suicide: Time for NJ to do the same

Colorado against pas

Colorado Rejects Right-to-Die Legislation

Colorado lawmakers rejected a proposal to give dying patients the option to seek doctors’ help ending their lives, concluding a long day of emotional testimony from more than 100 people.

For one lawmaker who voted no, the issue was personal. Tearfully telling her colleagues she was a cancer survivor, Democratic Rep. Dianne Primavera recalled how a doctor told her she wouldn’t live more than five years.

But she found a doctor who gave her a different opinion.

“And he took me in his care, and I am here today 28 years later,” she said.

Doctors who opposed the measure told lawmakers earlier that allowing dying patients to seek life-ending medications from a physician closed off the possibility of a recovery when a prognosis can sometimes be wrong.

A House committee considering the bill voted 8-5 against it after dozens of people with serious illnesses and others who have seen relatives suffer packed the Colorado legislative hearing.

The vote comes as a handful of other states, including California and Pennsylvania, consider laws to allow the terminally ill get doctor-prescribed medication to die.

Five states allow patients to seek aid in dying: Oregon, Washington, Montana, Vermont and New Mexico.

“This bill represents a very personal freedom that for some is taken away in the final stages of their illness,” said Democratic Rep. Joann Ginal, one of the bill sponsors. “Physicians give patients the best possible care. But there comes a time when a physician is no longer able to heal.”

Religious organizations opposed the measure, saying it facilitated suicide. But supporters argued that terminally ill patients should control when they die.

The story of Brittany Maynard last year spotlighted the debate over whether doctors should be able to prescribe life-ending medication to patients. Maynard, 29, moved from California to Oregon after being diagnosed with terminal brain cancer so she could use that state’s law. She died Nov. 1.

Colorado’s bill was modeled after Oregon’s. It would have required dying patients to get two doctors to sign off on their oral and written requests to end their lives. The patients also would have needed to be found to be mentally competent and be able to administer the life-ending medication themselves.

One of the opponents to the bill, Carrie Ann Lucas, spoke on behalf of Not Dead Yet, a New-York based disability rights group.

Lucas uses a wheelchair and ventilator because of a neuromuscular disease. She told lawmakers that she worries the proposal would make it easy for a disabled person who is depressed to get medication from a doctor. Without her ventilator, Lucas told lawmakers, she would have only hours to live. And, she said, if she were to get depressed, she thinks she could go to a doctor who doesn’t know her well to get the drugs.

“And they probably would give me that lethal prescription instead of referring me to mental-health treatment that I would so desperately need,” said Lucas, 43.

Boulder resident David Hibbard, 77, told lawmakers that as a hospice physician for the past 15 years, he knows what to expect once his Parkinson’s disease and leukemia advance.

“I will be hunched over, either bed-bound or in a wheelchair,” he said, his hands shaking as he spoke. He would be unable to talk and feed himself, Hibbard told lawmakers.

“I don’t want to endure this scenario, and I certainly don’t want to have my family, my wife and my three children, have to endure watching me go through this rapid deterioration,” he said.

Lawmakers hearing the bill raised concerns about whether there are enough safeguards to prevent abuse, such a family member advocating for life-ending medications on behalf of a dying relative. Lawmakers also wondered what would happen if the medications are not used, and whether someone other than the patient could then take them.

One lawmaker, Rep. Jon Keyser, R-Morrison, said he worries Colorado could become a state known for “suicide tourism” if the bill passes.

The Colorado legislation was inspired by Charles Selsberg, 77, who urged legislators to take on the issue with an editorial published in The Denver Post shortly before his death a year ago. Selsberg died of ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

His daughter, Julie Selsberg, wiped away tears after the vote. She supported the bill.

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Find Ivan Moreno on Twitter: http://twitter.com/IvanJourno

 

 

See How your State Senator Voted on S866, Gestational Carrier Bill

NJ Senate

Two Republicans, Senator Jennifer Beck (R-11) andSenator Sam Thompson (R-12) voted with 19 Democrats

to get to the 21 votes to pass this bill. See vote tally for

3rd Final Passage below on this page to see

how your Senator voted.

 

S866 Authorizes certain gestational carrier agreements.
Human Services

 

Identical Bill Number: A2648
Last Session Bill Number: S1599   (1R) A2646 (1R) Vitale, Joseph F.   as Primary Sponsor
Weinberg, Loretta   as Primary Sponsor
Allen, Diane B.   as Co-Sponsor
Stack, Brian P.   as Co-Sponsor


Session Voting:
Sen.    2/5/2015  –  3RDG FINAL PASSAGE   –  Yes {21}  No {13}

Not Voting {6}    –

  Addiego, Dawn Marie – (R) Not Voting
  Bateman, Christopher (R ) – No
  Bucco, Anthony R. (R) – No
  Connors, Christopher J. (R ) – No
  Doherty, Michael J. (R) – No
  Greenstein, Linda R.(D) – Yes
  Kyrillos, Joseph M., Jr. (R) – No
O’Toole, Kevin J. (R) – No
  Pou, Nellie (D)- Yes
  Sacco, Nicholas J. (D) – Yes
  Singer, Robert W. (R)- No
  Sweeney, Stephen M.(D) – Yes
  Van Drew, Jeff – (D) Yes
  Whelan, Jim (D) – Yes

Allen, Diane B. (R ) – Not Voting
Beach, James (D) – Not Voting
Cardinale, Gerald (R ) – No
Cruz-Perez, Nilsa (D) – Yes
Gill, Nia H.(D)  – Yes
Holzapfel, James W.(R) – No
Lesniak, Raymond J. (D) – Yes
Oroho, Steven V. (R) – No
Rice, Ronald L.(D) – Yes
Sarlo, Paul A. (D)- Not Voting
Smith, Bob – (D) Yes
Thompson, Samuel D.(R) – Yes
Vitale, Joseph F. (D)- Yes
Barnes, Peter J., III  (D)- Yes
Beck, Jennifer (R ) – Yes
Codey, Richard J.(D) – Yes
Cunningham, Sandra B (D). – Yes
Gordon, Robert M. (D) – Not Voting
Kean, Thomas H., Jr. (R)- No
Madden, Fred H., Jr. (D)- Yes
Pennacchio, Joseph (R) – No
Ruiz, M. Teresa (D)- Yes
Scutari, Nicholas P. (D)- Yes
Stack, Brian P. (D) – Yes
Turner, Shirley K. – (D) No
Weinberg, Loretta – (D) Not Voting

Update: S866/A2648, Gestational Carrier bill Passes Narrowly in the Senate by a vote of 21-13. Immediate Action Needed to defeat it in the Assembly!

 

baby being pulledUpdate: The NJ Senate narrowly passed S866 on 2/5/15 by a vote of 21-13.  It was added to the Senate Board List for the 2/5/15 Voting Session at the last minute.  See how your Senator voted Here

It now moves to the Assembly.  Please call and email your 2 State Assembly members and urge them to Vote No on S866/A2648 immediately.  Please share this information with family and friends.

You can send a pre-written message to your 2 Assembly members by going to our Legislative Action Center.

Background on gestational carrier bill

The NJ Senate Health Committee released bill S866 on Monday, January 26, 2015 by a vote of 5-0 with two abstentions. It can be scheduled for a vote at any time before the full Senate. Governor Christie vetoed an identical bill in August of 2012.   Please contact your State Senator and two Assembly members and urge them to Vote No on S866/A2648.

Senate bill sponsors are Senators Joseph Vitale (D-19), Senator Loretta Weinberg (D-37), Senator Brian Stack (D-33 ) and Senator Diane Allen (R-7).  Sponsors in the Assembly are Assemblywoman Valerie Vanieri Huttle (D-37) and Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-20).   The bill passed previously in 2012 by only one vote in both the Senate and Assembly and was vetoed by Governor Christie.

The bill would further advance the profits of a lucrative fertility industry which remains unregulated and would add to the number of embryonic human beings created in IVF labs, experimented on and killed for research purposes and aborted through selective reduction.  The bill will legalize the commodification and exploitation of women, disregarding women’s health, turn pregnancy and the miracle of birth into just another commercial transaction and a baby into a product.  The legislation would permit payment of  “reasonable expenses” to the gestational “carrier,” including “living expenses during her pregnancy including payments for food, clothing, medical expenses, shelter and religious, psychological, vocational or similar counseling services during the pregnancy and during the period of postpartum.”  It also redefines the the meaning of “natural mother” and “biological father” in law, setting the stage for many complex legal, ethical and societal problems.

Read more about this issue here

Take Action:

Contact your two Assembly members and urge them to Vote No on S866/A2648. You can obtain their names and contact information by calling the Office of Legislative Services at 1-800-792-8630 during regular business hours.  You can also find their contact info by visiting the NJ Legislature’s website at the following link:  http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/members/legsearch.asp

You can also send a pre-written email to them by going to our Legislative Action Center

 

Go to the tab that says “Legislation” on our website to send a pre-written message to your 2 Assembly Members from our Legislative Action Center on S866/A2648.

 

 

Take Action Now: Tell your State Senator to Vote No on A2270/S382!

Executive Director Marie Tasy testifying in opposition to A2270/S382, the physician assisted suicide bill

NJRTL Executive Director Marie Tasy testifies in opposition to A2270/S382, the physician assisted suicide bill

The NJ Senate Health and Human Services Committee held a 2nd hearing December 15, 2014, on A2270/S382, the assisted suicide bill and released it with reservations. The bill can be scheduled for a vote by the full Senate at any time.  Please take immediate action and please ask friends and family to take action and share as well.

Please read the article below and continue to call your Senator and urge him/her to Vote No on A2270/S382.   You can also use our Legislative Action Center to take action on this legislation. Thank you.

 

New Jersey Senate committee advances assisted-suicide bill

DECEMBER 15, 2014, 6:37 PM    LAST UPDATED: MONDAY, DECEMBER 15, 2014, 7:59 PM

After a lengthy and emotional hearing Monday, lawmakers narrowly sent New Jersey’s Death with Dignity Act to its final vote in the Legislature.

The question now is whether the legislation allowing physicians to prescribe fatal medication to terminally ill patients with less than six months to live can get the backing needed in the Senate. It barely got the support to pass the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee on Monday, by a vote of 5-3, but some lawmakers who were in favor of the legislation said they would vote against it in the full Senate.

In the past week the panel has heard testimony from medical organizations, religious groups, and those who have been given months to live and those who have witnessed the slow, painful death of a loved one. Advocates of the measure said it is a matter of civil liberties and provides a comforting outlet for those in pain. Critics have called it flawed policy tantamount to state-sanctioned homicide.

But after close to six total hours of lobbying on each side the past week, Senator Jim Whelan, D-Atlantic, summed up the panel’s responsibility this way: “This is really a highly personal issue, and very much a vote of conscience.”

Personal views do change, though. One of the bill’s original sponsors, Chairman Joseph Vitale, D-Middlesex, took his name off the legislation because, he said, “The more I thought about it, the more questions I had. I just thought it was best to say, ‘I’m not sure.’”

Still, Vitale cast a vote Monday in favor of releasing the bill to the full Senate, but without recommendation – meaning there is not overwhelming support in the majority.

It isn’t known if it has the 21 votes to clear the Senate, though Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, has come out in support of the bill. In a statement, he said he believes there “needs to be an honest discussion about this option.”

An Assembly version cleared last month with 41 votes, the minimum needed for a bill to pass. And even if the bill does pass the Senate, Governor Christie has said he does not support it.

Such a measure is contentious enough, but several speakers – and one committee member – suspected the bill was getting rammed through to the Senate.

“This is a very, very, very critical piece of legislation that deserves to have its time. It rushed through the Assembly in the dark of night. It’s rushing through the Senate in the dark of night,” said Sen. Bob Singer, R-Ocean. “What’s this urgency that it can’t get its fair share and can’t (let) everyone be heard?”

On Monday, several speakers expressed worry that the law, if passed, would become an option of first resort, not the last, for some.

“What we have is palliative care for the rich and death for the poor. Is that the road we’re really going down here?” said Alan Holdsworth, a member of the group Not Dead Yet.
Email: racioppi@northjersey.com

U. S. Rep. Scott Garrett Easily Wins Re-election in NJ’s 5th Congressional District

New Jersey’s most conservative member of Congress, Scott Garrett, handily won re-election to a fifth term by defeating Democrat Tod Theise and three other candidates in the 5th Congressional District.

Garrett, of Sussex County, solidified his position in the House of Representatives and an increasingly right-leaning national GOP party by racking up another big win today, this time against Theise of Warren County.

Theise, like predecessor Democrats who failed to dent Garrett’s armor, claimed he is too extreme and out-of-touch with his mainly moderate constituency.

But voters in the district, which has long been a Republican stronghold, delivered to Garrett one of his largest margins of victory.

Green Party candidate Ed Fanning and independents Mark Quick and James Douglas Radigan also lost today.

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We plan on being active in the 2015 State Legislative election.

100% of our pro-life incumbents endorsed by NJRTL PAC won re-election.  Please consider making a donation to NJRTL State PAC to support the election of more pro-life candidates to State and Local offices.

Thank you.

If A2270/S382 Passes, Will NJ Taxpayers be Funding Physician-Assisted Suicide?

tax dollarsOn November 18th, during the Assembly floor debate on A2270, the physician assisted bill, Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-26) asked Assemblyman John Burzichelli (D-3), the bill sponsor, some very important questions related to taxpayer funding of assisted suicide.  Assemblyman Webber said he noticed there was no prohibition on the use of state funds – either state medicaid funds or monies through the state health benefits plans from being used to intentionally end another individual’s life. He then asked Assemblyman Burzichelli if there was anything in the bill that would prevent state funds from being used to pay for assisted suicide. Assemblyman Burzichelli answered that he thought that the normal course of process associated with what is paid for or not paid for in the multiple programs the state had would be sufficient to sort out those details. Assemblyman Webber then asked if it was the sponsor’s intention to require public funding of physician assisted suicide. Burzichelli’s response was that he makes “no comment related to what those processes would provide based on this intent of the legislation.” You can listen to that exchange here (at minute marker 37:50 -40:07); We advise using Internet Explorer to access this page.

It is important to note that without an express prohibition in the bill to prohibit taxpayer funding of assisted suicide, it leaves the door open to the use of public funds. It’s amazing that the bill passed after this admission by the sponsor, especially among the four Republicans who voted for it, all of whom claim to be fiscal conservatives. (Asw. Maria Rodriguez-Gregg (R-8), Asm. Declan O’Scanlon (R-13), Asm. Jack Ciatterelli (R-16), and Holly Schepisi (R-39).)

We thank Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-26) and Assemblyman Robert Auth (R-39) for speaking about the dangers of this bill and pointing out its serious flaws.

Read related article here.

Let’s Be Honest: Assembly Bill is About Suicide, Not Dignity

assisted suicideDoblin: Let’s be honest: Assembly bill is about suicide, not dignity

NOVEMBER 17, 2014    LAST UPDATED: MONDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 2014, 1:21 AM
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I AM not evil. According to Brittany Maynard, I am. Maynard was the 29-year-old terminally ill woman who moved from California to Oregon so she could commit suicide on Nov. 1. I am not evil, and I refuse to be an apologist for what we are talking about across these not-so-United States. The New Jersey Death With Dignity Act is mislabeled. The function of such a law is to allow people to end their lives — and that is called suicide.

Maynard, an eloquent advocate for her cause, told People magazine, “For people to argue against this choice for sick people really seems evil to me.” On Thursday, 41 members of the state Assembly apparently agreed. By the slimmest of majorities, the 80-member chamber passed the so-called Death With Dignity bill.

The state Senate still must pass the bill before it could go to Governor Christie’s desk. Considering Christie’s pro-life stance, it is hard to envision him signing such a bill into law. There was not much debate in the Assembly, but what has been reported reveals some of the passion behind the legislation.

Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan, D-Middlesex, told of his mother’s last days. She had wasted away to 50 pounds and would tell him she wished she could die. There is no easy answer here. Legislation that will affect every person living in New Jersey should not be the byproduct of any individual’s personal loss.

Yet we see in state legislatures and Congress just that — the proliferation of laws that bear the first name of a victim of a crime or a natural calamity. These bills become laws because legislators find that spot inside constituents that wants to end brutality or suffering and come up with legislation that generally does not solve the problems, only salves the wounds.

The sincerity of the bill’s supporters is real. But the opposition is sincere, as well. There are religious forces at play, and there are more basic moral ones, not aligned to any one given faith. Despite the procedural safeguards that should prevent someone in momentary depression from committing suicide, this is a dangerous line for a state to cross. Because if we buy into the argument that this is all about personal liberty and no one has the right to tell anyone when to end their life, then suicide without checks and balances becomes not only justifiable, but a protected right. While many New Jerseyans may be fine with the overall concept of allowing terminally ill people the choice of killing themselves, in practice it might not be so black and white.

We all want to cheat death. And sometimes people defy their diagnosis. The headlines over Maynard’s decision may be recent, but the actress Valerie Harper made news when she went public with her diagnosis of terminal brain cancer. She was given three months to live — two years ago.

Terminally ill patients would have to be of sound mind when they decide to end their lives under this proposed bill. So the case of a dying parent in the final throes of a horrible death may not really be applicable. The decision to die would have had to be made and acted upon long before that stage was reached.

Some proponents of this legislation also claim that the health care industry is preventing terminally ill patients from dying because there is money to be made by forcing these patients to undergo needless medical procedures and treatments. Well, in this new America where all citizens must have health insurance, the opposite could become true — insurers could encourage patients with costly end-of-life illnesses to choose a quicker death.

If I am uncomfortable with the possibility that insurance companies could determine if I live or die — and I am — I am more frightened when legislators take on that role; I cannot think of a collective body more lacking in moral and intellectual integrity. Whether it is a state legislature or Congress, these chambers are political entities with members who vote with one eye on the next election and the other eye on the one beyond that one.

The law should be free of such political taint, but it is not. There may be enough support for the Assembly bill to bring it to the state Senate. Not for nothing, but the president of the state Senate intends to run for governor, and I am not sure he would want to have this piece of legislation on his résumé in 2017.

There is no way of knowing whether the individuals who chose suicide would have died the horrible deaths they chose to avoid. Without that irrefutable evidence, we are left with the stories of the terrible deaths of people we have known and loved as the primary reason for embracing state-sanctioned suicide.

My mother had Alzheimer’s. By the time she died, she no longer could walk, speak or understand any conversation. She was not in pain, which was a blessing. But she was robbed of her personality; no caregiver saw the dynamic woman she had once been. Should people with Alzheimer’s be given the option to end their lives while they still have their ability to reason? If more states become like Oregon, perhaps the answer one day will be yes.

The Assembly passed a bill claiming it allows dying people to retain their dignity. The Legislature is not in the dignity business. Dignity is innate; it can’t be legislated into existence. Alleviating pain and misery is a noble goal; state-sanctioned suicide is not.

If that makes me evil, I don’t want to know society’s definition of good.

Alfred P. Doblin is the editorial page editor of The Record. Contact him at doblin@northjersey.com. Follow AlfredPDoblin on Twitter.