The New Jersey Aid In Dying Act has been reinstated by an appellate court and upheld by the state Supreme Court after an argument was made to keep the law from taking effect.   rawpixel.com photo
The New Jersey Aid In Dying Act has been reinstated by an appellate court and upheld by the state Supreme Court after an argument was made to keep the law from taking effect. rawpixel.com photo

After a state Supreme Court judge’s attempt to halt the New Jersey Aid In Dying Act from taking effect, the law has been reinstated by an appellate court, a decision upheld by the state Supreme Court.

The appellate court ruled Aug. 27 that state Superior Court Judge Paul Innes and his court, which stalled the law with a temporary restraining order Aug. 14, “abused its discretion.”

The law, which legally took effect Aug. 1, allows a physician to prescribe life-ending drugs to patients who have received a terminal diagnosis – defined as an incurable, irreversible and medically confirmed disease that will end the person’s life within six months.  Because verbiage in the law requires the patient to make numerous requests over 15 days, the earliest a patient could have ended his/her own life would have been Aug. 16.

The restraining order was requested by Dr. Yosef Glassman, who said that his Jewish faith prohibited him from acting in accordance with the law because he would be required to refer patients seeking life-ending prescriptions to another physician. Doctors who do not participate in the law are required to refer patients to another physician.

“Having reviewed the record against the applicable law, we conclude the court abused its discretion in awarding preliminary injunctive relief,” the appellate court’s decision read. The court ruled that the law does not create a problem for doctors who disagree with it because the right-to-die procedure is voluntary.

Glassman’s attorneys immediately requested the temporary restraining order remain in place as they appeal; that request was denied. Not long after the appellate court's ruling, the state Supreme Court upheld the lower court's ruling. 

In a reflection issued a day before the law was to take effect, Bishop David M. O'Connell, C.M., wrote that physician assisted suicide is morally wrong. “It flies in the face of what our Founding Fathers believed. It flies in the face of what the Church believes and teaches.”

“As we witness the slow but steady erosion in contemporary culture of the conviction that all human life is sacred and worth preserving at every moment from conception through natural death, I call upon all Catholics within the Diocese of Trenton, indeed, upon all people of good will, to recommit themselves to the belief that God is the only Creator and source of all human life and that, therefore, God alone has the right to determine its natural end,” he wrote.

New Jersey is one of nine jurisdictions to have an assisted suicide law.