Note From the CEO:
New Jersey passed a medical aid-in-dying law, and that’s only the beginning of this month’s great news!
April 15, 2019
Last Friday, April 12, Governor Phil Murphy signed the Medical Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act, making New Jersey the eighth state and ninth jurisdiction to authorize this deeply meaningful choice.
Nearly seven years after the bill’s original introduction, the state Assembly approved the legislation by a 41 to 33 vote and Senate by a 21 to 16 vote on March 25. A resounding cheer reverberated across the organization, and especially in Trenton, where our New Jersey Campaign Director Corinne Carey (seen in the photo with the bill’s author, Assemblyman John Burzichelli, and me), Dan Diaz and a number of our storytellers and supporters had the distinct honor of being included in the private ceremony.
Remember, though, that passing laws like New Jersey’s is only the first step. Our access campaign is already gearing up to counteract the barriers our opposition will erect upon implementation. The harsh impact of such barriers is detailed in a two-part series from Honolulu’s KITV, which outlines some of the challenges in Hawaiʻi. The series features Compassion & Choices’ storyteller and advocates John Radcliffe and Dr. Charles Miller.
Fortunately there’s more good news — and a demonstration that continued progress is possible — from New York. On Tuesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo made his first public statement about medical aid in dying, strongly endorsing it in a radio interview. He said:
“Pass the bill … the older we get and the better medicine gets, the more we’ve seen people suffer for too, too long … it’s a situation we have to address definitely.”
He could not have timed his words more perfectly! Fresh off our New Jersey victory, Corinne, who also leads our campaign in New York, is more determined than ever to bring this compassionate option to her home state.
While leading our campaign in New Jersey, Corinne has also been building momentum across the Hudson River. These efforts include hosting a lobby day every Tuesday since the start of this year’s legislative session in January to keep the pressure on lawmakers. You can rest assured that the New Jersey victory and Governor Cuomo’s statement will turbo-charge these already aggressive efforts in New York.
I also have great news from Montana, where on April 5, we successfully defeated their noxious “Physician Imprisonment Act” (HB 284) in the state Senate, after it was approved by the House. Your support helped us rally allies from across the state to defend their precious right to end-of-life liberty by a five-vote margin. Hooray for us!
I’m also excited to see Oregon, our movement’s pioneer state, address some of the law’s unnecessary regulatory roadblocks. On April 5, our national director of integrated programs, Matt Whitaker, testified in favor of SB 579, which would allow doctors to reduce the 15-day waiting period to two days for patients facing imminent death. Passage would be a step forward for Oregonians and the nation, since the state’s legislation serves as the model nationwide.
This is a lot, I know! And it’s only a fraction of the work taking place. The volume is tremendous evidence of our rising momentum and the huge wave of social change we are creating together.