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N.J.’s Aid in Dying bill: Terminally ill patients say it stops suffering, critics worry about abuse

Jan Hefler | March 29, 2019 | Philadelphia Inquirer |


Susan Boyce recalled how her son pushed her wheelchair close to the edge of the New Jersey Senate floor so she could listen to the votes as they were cast, one by one, on the controversial Aid in Dying bill.

She was directly behind the lawmakers and when the vote count hit 21, she burst into tears. After a seven-year struggle, the bill was approved March 25, on a busy voting afternoon in the Trenton statehouse. Once it is signed by Gov. Phil Murphy, who has promised to do so, it will become effective within four months.

“I had grown a bit nervous that something could bounce it off the schedule or someone would change their mind. … I was so hugely relieved,” said Boyce, a 55-year-old terminally ill patient with a progressive, genetic disease, known as Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency, that has left her with 29 percent lung function.

She testified at earlier hearings about her need to have peace of mind and death with dignity while some others with her ailment have “lingered breathless for months before dying.”

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