IT HAPPENED; On January 12, 2016 at 11:59:59 am, the 216th NJ Legislative Session closed and at 12:00 noon the 217th Legislative session began. With the closing of the 216th session, S382 the Physician Assisted Suicide (PAS) bill died as well. On Monday, January 11th the Senate gathered at the State House for what was supposed to be their last voting session. Due to the enormous number of bills, the session adjourned and was reconvened on January 12th at 10:30 am. On Monday, we showed up once again to stand for life, to stand and show our opposition to the PAS bill in New Jersey. Lacking the ability to secure the votes needed for passage, Senate President Stephen Sweeney did not post the bill for a vote. And for now, this means VICTORY; together with our supporters and various pro-life groups, and disability rights activists in NJ, the bill was killed, not the person.
As I mentioned in last week’s Trenton Musings We have been lobbying hard on this issue in Coalition with the New Jersey Alliance against Physician–Assisted Suicide, of which some participants are New Jersey Right To Life, New Jersey Catholic Conference, NJ Knights of Columbus, Disability Rights Activist, Hospice and end of life care takers.
Physician Assisted Suicide, also known as Aid-in-Dying or as its proponent’s call it, Death with Dignity has been passed in 5 states. Oregon became the first state to legalize assisted suicide for the terminally ill, mentally competent adults in 1994, followed by Washington and Vermont. The Montana Supreme Court has ruled that physicians may prescribe lethal drugs to the competent, terminally ill. California was the most recent state to pass PAS in October of 2015. The pro-death advocates have won in 5 states. HOWEVER, they have lost the battle in 24 states… Oops, I mean 25 states, now that the bill in NJ has died for now!
I’d like to introduce you to a hero, or better said, a heroine, Dawn Teresa Parkot. She is an inspiration to all of us in the NO PHYSICIAN SUICIDE NJ COALITION. You see, since birth Dawn has suffered from a debilitating condition, Athetoid Cerebral Palsy and she is bound to a wheelchair. In addition, she needs the assistance of a computer in order to speak. Each time we gathered in Trenton to lobby against the PAS bill, Dawn was there with her dad, Sean. During a meeting with one particular Senator who was “on the fence” with the bill, Dawn waited patiently for the right time and hit the speak button on her computer. When she hit that button, out came a brave and compelling statement which helped sway that Senator. I was so impressed by this incredible person that God has seen fit, and has equipped her, in spite of the wheelchair and inability to speak on her own, to stand on the fore front of this fight for end of life issues.
Citizens with disabilities are extremely concerned about the slippery slope that PAS could have. To read more about this amazing woman, Dawn Teresa Parkot, and her incredible journey, please click below to visit her website:
You may even want to hire her to come and speak to your church group or local organization.
Dawn, my hat is off to you in total admiration, respect and love! God bless you, and both your Dad and Mom. What an inspirational family!
This truly was a collective effort by many folks. No one can claim victory for themselves, but in Coalition, working together each organization made a difference and fulfilled a unique role in helping to bring this bad piece of legislation down.
Last week I suggested we shouldn’t count our chickens before they hatch… Well, they’ve hatched and we hear little chick-lets saying NO Physician Suicide in NJ! We will remain vigilante, as we can expect the other side fighting to legalize PAS will introduce the bill again. They’ll have to start from scratch and go all the way through the process (2 committee hearings, 1 in the NJ Assembly, 1 in the NJ Senate, followed by a full vote in the Assembly and a full vote in the NJ Senate.) Bring it on!!!
FINALLY, THANK YOU ALL FOR BEING THERE FOR US. Your financial support, your prayers and encouragement helped to make this possible. I am truly grateful!