"Very few choose this route because of severe pain," he told CNA. While Furton agreed that those in severe pain should be given assistance and treatment, he did not think it was appropriate or proper to "abandon them to hopelessness" and promote the idea of suicide.
"Physicians should have no part in this reversal of the traditional aims of their profession, preserving health and life," he added.
The New Jersey law would be limited to adults. Two physicians would have to agree that the patient seeking to die has less than six months to live. In order to receive the lethal dose, the patient would have to submit three requests (with one in writing) to a doctor. The written request must be witnessed by two people, and one of the two people cannot be a family member, physician, or someone who is named as a beneficiary of the patient.
The patient would then have to self-administer the medication.
Six states, as well as the District of Columbia, have approved physician-assisted suicide, and its status is unclear in the state of Montana. Oregon was the first state to pass an assisted-suicide law, doing so in 1994. Washington followed suit in 2008.
Several states, including Massachusetts, have attempted and failed to pass physician-assisted suicide measures either by referendum or through the legislative process.
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Since the District of Columbia approved physician-assisted suicide in 2017, there have been no reported cases of terminally ill patients utilizing the law.
Christine Rousselle is a former DC Correspondent for Catholic News Agency. Prior to working at CNA, she was the managing web editor of Townhall.com; she has a BA in political science from Providence College.