The Significance of the Aid in Dying Act in New Jersey

Deputy Speaker, Asm. John Burzichelli (D) – NJ, and Steve Adubato speak about the significance of the “Aid in Dying Act” and end of life care. Burzichelli also addresses the possible future legalization of marijuana and his perspective on Governor Murphy’s proposed budget for 2020.

5/4/19 #308






"State of Affairs is joined by Assemblyman John Burzichelli who is the Deputy Speaker of the House. Good to see you Assemblyman. Happy to be here. All the way up from South Jersey, we greatly appreciate it. You have been a leader for almost seven years in this legislation called the Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill. As we tape this program on April 9th, there's a good chance, by the time this airs, this will be a law that the governor may sign. Hopefully. What will it do? Well it will give people who are terminally ill, with a dual diagnosis of six months or less to live, the option of requesting from their physician a prescription that they can fill that will allow them to conclude their life. When they choose to. Because it has to be self administered. You know, we had Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz, who voted against it, here. A nurse. Who said, "You know what? There are people who can't administer because they have dementia. they're sick. they have a certain..." That's correct. So then what? Well there are limitations, because in this approach, a person has to be of sound mind at the time they request the prescription. And has to be able to self administer the pharmaceutical. The idea is self determination and control. So this is not Dr. Kevorkian. Someone doesn't show up and inject you with something. This is your decision. And that's how it's structured. Assemblyman, you talked with us about... my colleague at WNET, Rafael Pi Roman, you joined us many times and talked about this. This is a fight you've been involved in. I've always been curious. Seven years. Why so committed? Is this personal? No. Actually it bubbled up through staff. I took an interest in it after researching and it's just become a... I always thought it was a place the legislature should spend time with. And this kind of issue was not an arm twisting political, kind of, horse-trading-for-votes type thing. So it took a while to bring people long enough to be satisfied that the Assembly passed it three times. Finally passed the Senate this time around. And this governor has said he's going to sign it. The previous governor was not inclined to do so. So it just took time. Safeguards? There are physicians, some physicians who say, "You know what? I'm not going to," because the physician has to... two physicians have to sign off? That's correct. If a physician says "I don't want to be a part of this," he or she can do that, correct? That's correct, right and as well as..."