New Jersey’s Medical Aid-in-Dying Law Back in Effect!

A New Jersey appellate court granted a request by state Attorney General Grewal to overturn a temporary restraining order that suspended the law for 13 days.
September 26, 2019

This has been a turbulent time for the residents of New Jersey. A New Jersey appellate court granted state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal’s request to overturn a temporary restraining order that had suspended the Medical Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act because although the state statute contains regulations, there are no administrative rules yet.  Subsequently, the Supreme Court of New Jersey denied the plaintiff’s emergency application to reverse the appellate court’s ruling. 

As a result of these two rulings, the Medical Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act is back in effect and will remain so, pending upcoming proceedings about the plaintiff’s other claims in the case. Compassion & Choices applauds Attorney General Gurbir Grewal for his actions, and the New Jersey Appellate invalidating the restraining order. 

This turn of events resulted from a lawsuit filed August 8, one week after the law originally took effect, by a physician who opposes the law on religious grounds. Superior Court Judge Paul Innes in Mercer County granted a temporary restraining order on August 14, preventing doctors from writing prescriptions. Thankfully, that restraining order has been dissolved and New Jerseyans currently have access to this compassionate option. The Superior Court set a hearing to discuss the injunctive relief again on Oct. 23, 2019. 

Formally called the Medical Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act, the legislation was signed into law in April by Gov. Phil Murphy, who opposed the law’s suspension. “We’re going to vigorously fight that injunction,” he said. “This was a really hard one for me — particularly growing up as a Catholic. This 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.” 

Compassion & Choices fought on behalf of terminally ill New Jerseyans for nearly seven years to get this law passed, and we are working diligently in defense of their hard-won right to use it. 

Currently we’re engaged with local attorneys and legislative champions to refute the opposition’s claims that the Medical Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act violates state and federal law — as well as the state and U.S. Constitutions. 

Compassion & Choices Chief of Legal Advocacy Kevin Díaz said, “We’re confident this attack on the rights of terminally ill patients will be defeated because we have successfully defended legal challenges to access medical aid-in-dying laws in California, Oregon and Vermont.”  


Compassion & Choices
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Patricia A. González-Portillo
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