- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 14, 2016

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - Some Catholic lawmakers in New Jersey are breaking with the church and supporting legislation that would let terminally ill residents obtain drugs to end their lives.

Catholic leaders have urged defeat of the measure, but The Record reported (https://bit.ly/2hwYQdL ) state Sen. Richard Codey, Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Assemblyman John Burzichelli, all Democrats and Catholics, support the measure

Under the bill, terminally ill residents with prognoses of less than six months to live would be permitted to obtain prescriptions for drugs to end their lives. It also offers protection to physicians who write lethal prescriptions for terminal patients.

Sweeney said it’s about helping terminally ill individuals have peaceful deaths.

“The church takes positions that are not necessarily mainstream. Why not give someone a choice?” Sweeney said.

Up to 40 percent of residents in the state identify as Catholic.

Catholic leaders, including Codey’s sister, say they prefer alternatives, including palliative, hospice and spiritual care.

“Assisted suicide is really counter to the mission of healing,” said Patricia Codey, a nun, attorney and president of the Catholic HealthCare Partnership of New Jersey, which represents the state’s Catholic hospitals.

The bill passed the Assembly in October. Its future in the Senate remains unknown and Republican Gov. Chris Christie, a Catholic, is considered likely to veto the bill. He declined to comment through his spokesperson.

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Information from: The Record (Woodland Park, N.J.), https://www.northjersey.com

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