A judge in New Jersey has issued a temporary restraining order blocking the state’s new assisted suicide law. The Medical Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act, which took effect August 1, allows patients to self-administer lethal medication if they are deemed by a doctor to have less than six months to live. Because there was a two-week waiting period before a physician could administer the medication, no individuals in the state have yet fallen victim to the law.
State Superior Court Judge Paul Innes granted the order last week in response to a lawsuit filed by Yosef Glassman, a physician who opposes the new law on religious and professional grounds.
In the lawsuit, Glassman says that the law interferes with his religious beliefs as an Orthodox Jew and his training as a physician. He also objects to the law’s stipulation that a physician who refuses to participate in the life-ending practice must refer the patient to another doctor.
“The Aid in Dying law, which we think should be called the Assisted Suicide Act, is something that goes completely against what a doctor is,” said E. David Smith, the lawyer representing Glassman, according to NJ 101.5. “A doctor has the mission to heal and to continue life as long as possible. It’s not for a doctor to be any way involved in ending life.”
During a news conference on Thursday, New Jersey governor Phil Murphy defended the law, saying the state would fight back against the recent court decision. Murphy supports the law despite the teaching of his Catholic faith.
According to Fox News, Murphy said, “It is really hard for me, particularly given growing up as a Catholic. This one was not an easy one to get to, but I got convinced that it shouldn’t be the law that dictates how things end. But it should be you and your loved ones.”
Last Friday, the state Attorney General’s office asked the Supreme Court to remove the temporary injunction.
“Those terminally ill patients and their families that have taken affirmative steps in reliance on the timelines in the Act, which became effective August 1, 2019, will be forced to continue in the intense suffering, pain, and indignity of terminal illnesses from which they seek immediate relief,” the AG’s office wrote in a court filing.
While the state insisted that it would fight to have the law reinstated, many pro-life advocates praised the recent court order.
“New Jersey’s assisted suicide law is a bad public policy that leaves many New Jersey residents at risk of abuse and coercion,” Kristen Hanson, a community advocate for the Patients Rights Action Fund said in a statement to Fox News. “The temporary restraining order issued, which prevents the policy from going into effect, is a welcome reassessment of a law that threatens the lives of the poor, older people, the terminally ill, and people with disabilities. New Jersey deserves better end-of-life-care, not assisted suicide.”
The restraining order is in effect until at least the next court date, which is scheduled for October 23.
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