N.J.’s highest court upholds law giving terminally ill patients the option to end their lives
The state’s controversial “Aid in Dying” law won the support of the state Supreme Court Tuesday afternoon, upholding a decision from earlier in the day dismissing a restraining order that prevented patients from pursuing their own death.
The “Medical Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act” Gov. Phil Murphysigned in April took effect Aug. 1, but the law was put on hold due to the legal challenge.
Tuesday’s rulings means the law is in effect again.
A doctor in Englewood, Yosef Glassman, sued to overturn the law because he said it violates his religious beliefs and his oath as a physician to preserve life. Glassman won a restraining order on Aug. 14 preventing any doctors or pharmacists from dispensing lethal medication.
“We are, of course, disappointed with the Supreme Court’s ruling but nevertheless respect it,” Glassman’s attorney Richard Grohmann said.
Corinne Carey, state senior campaign director for Compassion & Choices, which helps pass death with dignity laws, praised the appeals court’s decision for putting patients’ wishes first.
“On balance, the harm to patients who relied on the law duly authorized by the Legislature far outweighed the hypothetic harm” cited by the doctor, Carey said. “This doctor had no relationship to a patient who made a request. This was a theoretical harm. The court wisely noted he has a right to refrain from participating.”
The state Attorney General’s Office, which is defending the law against the challenge, did not respond to requests for comment.
Susan K. Livio may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.