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Actor James Naughton Narrates PSA to Publicize 2nd Anniversary of NJ Medical Aid-in-Dying Law

Says: “Dying New Jerseyans Don’t Have to Suffer as My Wife Did”

Tony Award-winning actor James Naughton is commemorating this week’s 2nd anniversary of New Jersey’s medical aid-in-dying law by narrating a public service announcement for Compassion & Choices’ digital video and social media campaign to educate state residents about the law.

New Jersey’s Medical Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act took effect on Aug. 1, 2019.

Naughton, a life-long tri-state resident who lives in Weston, CT, started advocating and testifying for Connecticut lawmakers to pass medical aid-in-dying legislation in 2019, six years after his wife of 50 years, Pam, died after a four-year battle from pancreatic cancer.

Below is the PSA script.

“Hi, I’m actor James Naughton.
“You may recognize me from my work on Broadway or on screen.
“A few years ago, I watched my wife Pam die after a four-year battle with pancreatic cancer.
“Look, we all know that death is inevitable. But suffering isn’t.
“Dying New Jerseyans don’t have to suffer as my wife did…
thanks to the Medical Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act.
“To learn more about this law, please visit CompassionAndChoices.org/NewJersey

“We’re grateful to James Naughton for sharing his deeply personal loss to help us educate New Jerseyans about this peaceful dying and compassionate option that’s available in New Jersey,” said Kim Callinan, who grew up in Bergen County and is president/CEO of Compassion & Choices, which led the grassroots campaign to pass New Jersey’s medical aid-in-dying law. “Pam Naughton’s needless end-of-life suffering is all too common in the 40 states where medical aid in dying is not available, including New Jersey’s tri-state neighbors, Connecticut and New York.”

New Jersey is among 10 states, as well as Washington, D.C., that authorize medical aid in dying for mentally capable, terminally ill adults with six months or less to live to have the option to request a doctor’s prescription for medication they can decide to take to die peacefully to end unbearable suffering.

The Compassion and Choices’ New Jersey digital video and social media campaign will include a comprehensive, targeted digital pre-roll video program across the CBS Local Network and social media placements on Facebook to reach residents statewide. Pre-Roll Video is a non-skip, clickable (:30) spot run before CBS Local news, sports, weather, and entertainment clips and during live streaming News broadcasts on CBS local sites. Video placements run on both desktop and mobile devices.

On April 26, two weeks after the 2nd anniversary of Governor Phil Murphy signing New Jersey’s medical aid-in-dying law on April 12, 2019, Compassion & Choices launched a banner display digital and social media campaign that has generated nearly 650,000 impressions to date.

A few weeks later in May, the New Jersey Department of Health released a report showing that 33 terminally ill state residents in 16 counties used the state’s Medical Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act to peacefully end their suffering in 2020 (an average of 2.75 adults/month). Seventy-three percent of the people who utilized the law had cancer and 15 percent had neurological diseases.

Compassion & Choices has a free online “Find Care” tool (compassionandchoices.org/findcare) that enables New Jerseyans to find the nearest healthcare facility with a policy that allows physicians who are willing to provide medical aid in dying to patients who request it. The organization also has created online tools and resources for patients and doctors, including our online Plan Your Care Resource Center (compassionandchoices.org/end-of-life-planning/) that includes a COVID-19 specific toolkit (compassionandchoices.org/end-of-life-planning/covid-19-toolkit) to help people navigate end-of-life care during the pandemic.

These tools complement the guidance provided by the New Jersey Department of Health for healthcare providers and patients about how to participate in the law and the forms required to do it on its website at nj.gov/health/advancedirective/maid. The New Jersey Hospital Association has posted an implementation toolkit for healthcare providers on its website at njha.com/resources/toolkits/the-nj-aid-in-dying-for-the-terminally-ill-implementation-toolkit.

The other 10 jurisdictions that authorize medical aid in dying besides New Jersey are: California, Colorado, Hawai‘i, Maine, Montana (via state Supreme Court ruling), New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and Washington, D.C. Collectively, these 11 jurisdictions have decades of experience successfully implementing this medical practice and represent more than one out of five people (22%) nationwide.


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