VOTE NO ON A2451/S2474

A letter to NJ Senator Bateman - VOTE NO

Dear Senator,  

It has come to my attention that the NJ Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act A2451/S2474, aka the NJ Physician Assisted Suicide Bill may be voted on this Monday, March 13 (2017).   

I've done some research and below is a synopsis and links to the sources.  Please note that my research clearly paints a very chilling picture of the potential for abuse.  Insurance companies denying treatment yet offering to cover suicide, presumably because they will pay out less in the long run.  Then there's the daughter who coaches her mother during a psychiatric evaluation...  

When Barbara Wagner's doctor prescribed a drug that would likely extend her life and would make her more comfortable, her state insurance program refused to authorize payment for it.  Instead, it sent her a letter saying it would pay for doctor-prescribed suicide.
"Death Drugs Cause Uproar in Oregon"
(ABC News - August 6, 2008)
The news from Barbara Wagner's doctor was bad, but the rejection letter from her insurance company was crushing... What the Oregon Health Plan did agree to cover, however, were drugs for a physician-assisted death.

Randy Stroup who had prostate cancer was also offered doctor-prescribed suicide by the Oregon Health Plan.
"Oregon Offers Terminal Patients Doctor-Assisted Suicide Instead of Medical Care"
Some terminally ill patients in Oregon who turned to their state for health care were denied treatment and offered doctor-assisted suicide instead, a proposal some experts have called a "chilling" corruption of medical ethics.  

Kate Cheney
"Physician-assisted suicide: A family struggles with the question of whether mom is capable of choosing to die" 
(Oregon Live - February 4, 2015)
Originally published in the Oregonian in 1999, Oregon Live republished the article on February 4, 2015.
It appeared that dementia was setting in.  And her daughter's assertiveness about getting the lethal dose for her mother made the psychiatrist wonder whose agenda this really was... There is no single method for evaluating a dying person's competence to commit assisted suicide or to gauge undue influence. Oregon's law says the person must be able to make and communicate health care decisions and be aware of his or her medical condition, the risks of using a lethal dose and the feasible alternatives.  A psychological disorder - senility, for example - does not necessarily disqualify a person.


Although uncontrolled pain is often seen as sufficient justification for legalized assisted suicide, relatively few people even mentioned it. The three main reasons were "less able to engage in activities making life enjoyable" (96%); "losing autonomy" (92%); and "loss of dignity" (75%). "Inadequate pain control or concern about it" was mentioned by 28.7% but the statistics do not indicate how many actually had actually experienced unrelieved pain. Statistics about the dying process are very skimpy. Brittany Maynard, who must be among the 132 people in Oregon's figures, died quickly and peacefully, surrounded by her family and friends. But it is not at all clear whether or not this is typical. For about 80% of the 132 deaths there is no information on how long it took or whether there were difficulties. In 2015, there is information on only 27 deaths; in 4 of these there were complications such as regurgitation or seizures. It took patients between 5 minutes and 34 hours (sic, hours) to die - but there are figures only for 25 patients. In past years, it has taken up to 104 hours (ie, more than 4 days) to die.

"Doctors are trained to preserve life.  Mental health professionals are trained to view thoughts of suicide as symptoms of a problem in need of treatment. 

Oregon 's law turned all that on its head... "Some scholars scoff at the notion that a person could make any decision - - let alone the decision to die - without being influenced by others and say that such a standard is not a valid reason to deny them that choice."

I find these statements to be very disturbing.  

With these concerns, I urge you to vote NO and to encourage your colleagues to seriously explore the dangers of potential abuse.