May 20, 2024
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Our Representatives Let Us Down in Voting to Legalize Assisted Suicide

First and foremost, I love reading this wonderful paper!

I would like to express my opinion regarding one of the biggest new threats to America and America’s Jewish community, which is the legalization and normalization of assisted suicide around the United States. Assisted suicide is the suicide of a patient affected by the taking of lethal drugs provided by a doctor for this purpose. This total lack of regard for human life is the anathema of Torah Judaism.

Two sessions ago, four assembly members sponsored the first New Jersey assisted suicide bill. Unfortunately, two of those four represent the bulk of Bergen County’s Jewish community: Tim Eustace (the largest communities being Fair Lawn/Paramus/Bergenfield) and Valerie Huttle (the largest communities being Englewood/Teaneck/Tenafly). Assemblyman Gordon Johnson (also from the Englewood/Teaneck/Tenafly district) was a cosponsor of the bill. The bill went on to pass the Assembly health committee, but thank God, never picked up traction in the assembly for a full vote.

The hearing saw many people testify against the bill including many disabled people who rightly feel that this bill will put them at risk. It was pointed out during the hearing that while sponsors say that this bill is about helping people in pain, this bill allows for the termination of someone who has no pain. Another point brought up is in Oregon, which has this law, Medicaid has turned a few people down for life-saving treatments including chemotherapy but offered to pay for the poison to kill them instead.

Then on the first day of Sukkot, the NJ Assembly announced that there will be a vote before the entire assembly on Thursday of Chol Hamoed. The only Orthodox Jew in the assembly, Gary Schaer, let us down tremendously. On the morning of the vote he was asked to openly speak against the bill, which many long-time lobbyists felt could have changed a few votes. Not only did he not speak against the bill, but he was acting as chair during its passage.

During the session, Assemblyman Robert Auth said the proof needed that the patient is interested in suicide is signatures of two witnesses. However, an agent of the patient’s medical insurance company, the most biased of all, would be considered a witness under this bill. Therefore, he asked for a vote that would bring the bill back to the committee to fix the flaws with this bill that are apparent to even supporters of the concept of assisted suicide. Unfortunately party politics interfered with basic sanity and instead voted (including Gary Schaer) to vote on the bill right away.

Gary Schaer closed the vote in an unusual and abrupt way to make sure that the bill passed. People who have been around Trenton for years commented how “unusual the vote closing was.” The bill passed by only one vote and unfortunately most of assembly members that represent the Jewish community voted the wrong way, including all of those who represent Bergen County’s Jewish community.

It was clear that because of Gary Schaer’s actions and inactions and Marlene Caride (Passaic’s other representative) the bill passed.

Sincerely,

Avraham Sharaby

Lakewood, NJ

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