New Jersey State lawmakers are considering an “Aid in Dying” bill that would legalize publicly funded assisted suicide in New Jersey. On October 20, Assemblyman Jay Webber opposed this euthanasia policy with the following excerpted statement in the New Jersey General Assembly.
Assemblyman Jay Webber Opposing Assisted Suicide
Creating Obligation to Die
This proposal for taxpayer-funded assisted suicide “has a major impact on all of us, not just for the individual circumstances we might find ourselves in, but as a matter of public policy what it says about who we are as a society, and who we want to be as a society. I don’t think this bill makes our state more compassionate. . . . [W]hen someone is reaching the end of their life and they are in pain or they are in fear and they don’t know what comes next or they don’t know what to do, I think we have an obligation to them to love them and to help them through that time, not to encourage them to prematurely end their lives. The opportunity or the right to end our lives to commit suicide might sound like something you want for certain difficult circumstances. But I think we’ve all had family members we’ve had friends especially seniors who are sick, disabled who don’t want to be a burden on their families anymore or they don’t want to be a burden on the taxpayers anymore or they’re worried about preserving their estate for their children and their grandchildren. And to those people who have spent their lives taking care of us, as parents or as grandparents, who invested so much in us at the end of their lives, I think we owe them more than the opportunity to take a few pills and end it quickly. I think we all know that seniors in that position wouldn’t see this as a right to die, they’d almost see it as an obligation to die. And I don’t want to live in a state or country that gives the impression to people who are disabled, or sick, or dying that they have an obligation to end it quickly, to preserve their assets for us, or so that they’re not a burden for us, so we don’t have to drive to their house anymore, or to help them bath, or help them clean, or help them shop, whatever it is. They don’t have an obligation to us, we have an obligation to them.”
“We also talked about the inequality that this bill creates. We were founded; our nation was founded on the basic premise that we are all created equal. Equal before the law, equal in opportunity. Equal regardless of our race, or our gender, or our ethnicity, or our height, or our weight, or whatever it is. And this law, this bill would put into law, really for the first time in our lifetimes the notion that not everybody is created equal. That everybody has inalienable right to life, except those people who are really, really sick, who are really, really depressed or who really, really want to end it. They have an alienable right to life, they can end their lives. Whenever the state decides that some lives are more valuable than others, not only are we less equal, but we are less free.”
Road to Suicide-on-Demand
“[T]he people who advocate for assisted suicide in this limited circumstance, that the bill covers, know very well that they want to expand the class of people to which this would apply. Folks, we’ve seen this happen and play out in other countries that have passed laws like this. It’s not just those with six months to live. Those laws have quickly devolved to cover the mentally infirm. And in places like Belgium and the Netherlands, frankly if you’re just plain depressed and don’t want to live anymore or if you’re tired of living, you can end your life. And that’s sanctioned under the law and you get assistance to do it. . . . This is where . . . people who advocate these kinds of measures want to take the law, and it’s not a good place and we shouldn’t follow along.”
Forces Taxpayers to Fund Suicide
“This bill will make New Jersey the third state in the nation to fund assisted suicide with taxpayer dollars, and it’s only going to be state dollars under Medicaid because the federal government has prohibited it. What has the California experience taught us? California is, along with Oregon, one of the only states in the Union that subsidizes with taxpayer dollars assisted suicide. You know what the economics are of the end of life issues we have to face. It’s a lot cheaper to give somebody a few pills and let them end their lives early, prematurely, than it is to try to give them compassionate hospice care, palliative care, or even try to cure them. And as a result of that, in California, the state will pay $5,400 for a patient for assisted suicide drugs, but a recent study has shown that only one in three Medi-Cal recipients ever get a chance at cancer treatments and can’t often obtain second opinions because the cost benefit analysis is so clear and so easy for state bureaucrats to make, it’s easier to kill their patients then to try to cure them or even try to comfort them.”
Better Solutions than State-Sanctioned Suicide
“We have better options Mr. Speaker, and we’re better than that. People at the end of their lives, when they are suffering from a debilitating illness, if they have just a little bit of time left in this world, we can treat them with palliative care, with hospice care, with far greater generosity than the encouragement to prematurely end their lives. . . . We have better solutions, Mr. Speaker. This State is better than this. I urge you to vote No. Thank you.”
Assemblyman Jay Webber represents residents of the 26th District in the New Jersey General Assembly, including residents in Butler, Fairfield, Jefferson, Kinnelon, Lincoln Park, Montville, Morris Plains, North Caldwell, Parsippany-Troy Hills, Rockaway Township, Verona, West Caldwell, West Milford.