By David Madden

TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) — A New Jersey legislative committee has approved a measure that would allow terminally ill people to die at their own hand, with the help of a lethal prescription.

The bill would allow someone with less than six months to live the ability to obtain drugs they could use to end their lives, if they’re confirmed to be of sound mind and a consulting doctor confirms the fatal diagnosis.

It’s an emotional issue that brought out dozens of people on both sides to a committee hearing in Trenton. Mickey MacIntyre with Compassion and Choices supports the idea.

“It’s not really about death,” MacIntyre says. “It’s about how we choose to live our final days. And this isn’t just about the theoretical construct of that, but this is going to face each and every one of you.”

But opponents of the plan, like bioethicist Jacqueline Harvey, suggest many in that situation seek to end it all because they’re depressed — and this bill could open the door to more problems.

Essentially, when you’re saying that it’s acceptable to end one’s life in one stage, you are saying it’s acceptable to end life in another stage,” Harvey says. “And there’s also the fear of saying what exactly is the difference between having a mental illness and having a physical illness.”

The full assembly will now take up the bill which does not seek a voter referendum on the question, unlike an earlier version.

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