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Terminally ill patients in New Jersey can opt for physician-assisted suicide starting Thursday

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Posted at 7:54 PM, Jul 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-29 19:57:50-04

Those with a terminal illness in New Jersey will legally be able to end their life voluntarily beginning Thursday.

The new law, "Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act," was signed by Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy in April. The law allows for terminally ill patients to choose to have a physician administer drugs that would result in a painless death.

New Jersey is among a handful of other states that have passed so-called "Right to Die" laws — California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana Oregon, Vermont and Washington. The laws are currently on hold in Montana and Washington, DC as they face legal battles.

Under the New Jersey law, only people over the age of 18 that had been diagnosed with an incurable condition that would end the person's life within six months would be eligible to elect for suicide. The person would need to ask their doctor about assisted suicide twice over a 15-day span, and a second doctor would need to confirm the initial diagnosis. Finally, the patient needs to provide a written declaration of their wish to die that needs to be witnessed by two people — one of whom that cannot stand to benefit financially from the patient's passing.

Advocates argue that sick patients should have the right to die peacefully when painful treatments that may not improve quality of life are the only option for survival,

But some experts argue the ethics behind the law make it incompatible with the medical profession. The American Medical Association says the physician-assisted suicide "is fundamentally incompatible with the physician's role as healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious societal risks."

According to NJ.com, nearly 4,000 people have chosen to end their life in right-to-die states since Oregon passed the first law of its kind in 2007.