New Jersey Reports 50 State Residents Received Aid-in-Dying Prescriptions in 2021

June 9, 2022
The New Jersey Department of Health has released a report showing 50 state residents received prescriptions authorized by the state’s Medical Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act, and 45 people took the medication, representing .06% of the state’s total deaths of 84,072 people in 2021. In comparison, 33 terminally ill New Jersey residents received prescriptions for medical aid in dying in 2020, according to the health department’s 2020 report.
Ninety-four percent of the 50 terminally ill people who accessed the law in 2021 died at home (47 people) 70 percent had a “malignancy,” i.e., cancer (35 people), and 20 percent had a neurodegenerative disease (10 people) and 10 percent of those who received prescriptions (5 people) did not take the medication.
The report notes: “All forms that were submitted noted ‘credit card’ as the form of payment … The only two races that have been reported as participating in the Medical Aid in Dying Program since its inception in 2019, were White and Asian.”
“I’m delighted to see that more New Jersey residents have been able to access medical aid in dying,” said Kim Callinan, who grew up in Bergen County and is president/CEO of Compassion & Choices, the advocacy group that led the grassroots campaign to pass the law. “New Jersey’s implementation follows the trends in other states. Our focus moving forward will be to ensure that all people – regardless of their race – are able to access this compassionate end-of-life care option should they want it.”
headshot of Dr. Deborah Pasik, founder, New Jersey Death With DignityDr. Deborah Pasik, founder, New Jersey Death With Dignity

“What I found remarkable about all of the terminally ill people I have prescribed medical aid in dying to, with no exceptions, was that they were all extremely clear in their requests, their decisions were made after weeks of discussions with their respective families, friends, and even clergy,” said Deborah Pasik, M.D. FACR, a physician in Cedar Knolls, who wrote 36 prescriptions for medical aid in dying in 2021 and is the founder of the nonprofit group New Jersey Death With Dignity. “Every single one of them expressed gratitude and peace of mind, their anxieties dissipated after being told that their prescriptions would be written. They then went on to celebrate their lives with their loved ones, record legacy videos, get their affairs in order with a clear-headedness that only comes with the knowledge that they were in control.”

Compassion & Choices 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 a law implementation toolkit for healthcare providers on its website at njha.com/resources/toolkits/the-nj-aid-in-dying-for-the-terminally-ill-implementation-toolkit.
New Jersey is among 11 jurisdictions nationwide that authorize mentally capable, terminally ill adults with six months or less to live to have the option to request and receive a doctor’s prescription for medication they can decide to take to die peacefully in their sleep if their suffering becomes unbearable. The other 10 jurisdictions that authorize medical aid in dying 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 represent more than one out of five people (22%) nationwide and have decades of experience successfully implementing this medical practice.

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