Bergenfield Doctor’s Lawsuit Halts NJ Physician-Assisted Suicide Act

Jewish Link

Bracha Schwartz

Rabbi Yosef P. Glassman, MD, of Bergenfield, has won a lawsuit to temporarily stop the New Jersey Medical Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act that had been scheduled to take effect on August 16. The law would allow physicians, under certain conditions, to prescribe drugs to terminally ill patients for the sole purpose of ending their lives. But the battle has just begun.

In an email interview, Rabbi Dr. Glassman explained why he initiated the lawsuit. “I was motivated to act by the chilling prospect of being a part of the suicide process, which strongly conflicted with both my professional and religious values. I was fortunate enough to engage in meaningful discussions with several concerned Jewish community members on the topic, and I decided to take a firm position, being involved in the field of geriatrics. Some people who may oppose my action may say that I want dying patients to suffer, chas v’shalom. Quite the opposite—we as physicians have ample tools to alleviate the suffering for the living, even for the terminally ill, without the need to license suicide.” . . . [Full text]

One thought on “Bergenfield Doctor’s Lawsuit Halts NJ Physician-Assisted Suicide Act”

  1. The lawsuit challenges the requirement that a physician transfer a patient’s records upon request to a physician found by the patient who is willing to assist with suicide. This is the usual legal requirement in most jurisdictions where euthanasia or assisted suicide are legal. The physician is not required to initiate the transfer (i.e., find a colleague willing to provide euthanasia or assisted suicide) but to a respond to a patient-initiated transfer. This is usually an acceptable compromise, since (a) the patient – not the physician – must find someone willing to provide the service, and (b) the patient records (consisting of information in the records) is generally (and sometimes legally) considered the property of the patient, not the physician. In this case, the physician is concerned that by transferring the records knowing that they will be used to provide assisted suicide he becomes complicit with the act. The court will have to decide whether or not physicians should be allowed to prevent patients from accessing and using their own medical records based on the physician’s belief concerning the patient’s intended use of the records.

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