Orthodox Jewish doctor loses challenge to New Jersey ‘assisted-suicide’ law

(JTA) — A New Jersey law that permits doctors to prescribe life-ending medications went into effect after an Orthodox Jewish doctor lost in his bid to challenge the measure.

The Medical Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act was to take effect Aug. 1, but a state Superior Court judge placed a temporary hold on the law pending appeals.

Dr. Yosef Glassman, a Bergen County geriatrician, had argued in his lawsuit that the measure requires him to violate his religious beliefs and professional ethics as a doctor, either by facilitating a patient’s suicide or by referring the patient to another doctor who would be willing to prescribe drugs to end his or her life.

The law allows terminally ill patients who are deemed by a doctor to have less than six months to live to obtain life-ending drugs. The patient must administer the medication himself.

On Tuesday, a state appeals court overruled the Superior Court, saying it “failed to consider adequately the interests of qualified terminally-ill patients, who the Legislature determined have clearly prescribed rights to end their lives consistent with the Act,” The Associated Press reported.

Glassman immediately appealed to the state Supreme Court, but the appeal was rejected, which allowed the law to go into effect.