Committee Would Decide End Of Life Under New State Rules
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
March 24, 2003
TRENTON, NEW JERSEY--Every day, the state Department of Human Services makes decisions regarding the lives of 3,614 people with developmental disabilities.
But it cannot make the decision to allow lifesaving medical treatment to be withdrawn if a person is considered terminally ill.
That would soon change under the department's new rules.
According to a story in the Press of Atlantic City, DHS is rewriting its rules to allow a state ethics committee to determine when to pull life-saving measures from people with developmental disabilities. The committee would include doctors, nurses, lawyers, ethicists, and members of the clergy. Before treatment could be withheld, the patient's prognosis would have to be reviewed by two doctors, the person's state-appointed guardian, the ethics committee and the state's Protection and Advocacy agency.
"There is a flippancy that people in poor health don't want to be alive when that's the only life they've ever known," said Joe Young, director of New Jersey's Protection and Advocacy. "The misperception is, since the person is cognitively impaired, of course they might want to terminate their life."
Once the rules are approved by the Office of Administrative Law, they would apply immediately to at least two patients with developmental disabilities who are currently on life support.
Press of Atlantic City