By David Madden and Cleve Bryan

TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) — A bill that would legalize assisted suicide passed in the New Jersey Assembly.

It was close, 41-31, and there were impassioned speeches on both sides regarding what’s officially known as the “Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill” act. Paulsboro Democrat John Burzichelli is one of the measure’s prime sponsors.

“It’ll be conducted in a way that will enhance the relationship between the doctor and a patient because I would always think, just as a person, that the physician would always speak about options that could be most helpful as opposed to an option such as making a choice to ask for a prescription,” said Burzichelli.

Detractors claim the bill could lead New Jersey down a slippery slope expanding the role euthanasia can play in life.

At the State House supporters and opponents filled the gallery above lawmakers.

“It gives people the right to die the way they want to die and I’ll take advantage of that if and when the time is right at the end stage,” says Tom Martin from Somers Point who is in a third recurrence of prostate cancer.

There were several doctors in lab coats who oppose physician assisted suicide.

“We’re supposed to be one hand to hold and one hand to heal, not one hand to hold and one hand to kill. So I really don’t have many counterparts that would advocate for this,” says Dr. Ana Gomes who has a family practice in Phillipsburg, NJ.

The plan is stalled in the senate. Governor Christie has said he opposes the idea.

“If it were to reach his desk today I don’t know what he would do. I know what he said, but I don’t judge him by what he said today as to what he will do tomorrow,” says Burzichelli on the likelihood of Gov. Christie signing the bill.

 

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