Manish Pujara, a Hindu pharmacist from Paramus, NJ, on Monday joined a lawsuit filed by Orthodox Jewish doctor Yosef Glassman against the state’s new “Aid in Dying” law, NJ.com reported.
Glassman’s attorney said his client is morally opposed to the law, stating: “The Aid in Dying law, which we think should be called the Assisted Suicide Act, is something that goes completely against what a doctor is. A doctor has the mission to heal and to continue life as long as possible. It’s not for a doctor to be in any way involved in ending life.”
Pujara argued the new law infringes on his right to practice his Hindu faith, which teaches that all human life is sacred.
On Aug. 14, State Superior Court Judge Paul Innes imposed a temporary restraining order, siding with Dr. Glassman, who argued that although the law took effect Aug. 1, Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration had not yet written the rules governing the practice, “rendering the entire death process wholly unregulated.”
Gov. Murphy told reporters that he plans to “vigorously fight” the restraining order, which remains in effect until the next scheduled court date, on Oct. 23.
“This was a really hard one for me, particularly given growing up as a Catholic,” the governor said, adding, “This was not an easy one to get to. But I got convinced that it shouldn’t be the law that dictates how things end. That it should be you and your loved ones.”
New Jersey’s law allows mentally capable, terminally ill adults ages 18 and older with six months or less to live to request a doctor’s prescription for a medication that, if taken, will result in their death. More than 200 NJ health care providers have been trained in the practice.
Dr. Deborah Pasik, an attending physician in Morristown, New Jersey, who supports the law, told US News that the medication is intended to end suffering, and should not be taken when the patient can still get their life in order.
“A lot of times, the end actually comes more peacefully than the patient anticipates, and a lot of patients don’t go through with it; they don’t actually take the medication when they’re at the end of their life,” Pasik said. “But just the comfort of the fact that this medication is there in their medicine cabinet decreases the stress of the entire process, both for the patient and for the family, because the patient knows that when they and only they decide that the suffering is intolerable – and that’s an ‘if,’ not a ‘when’ – then that medication is there for them.”
According to Rabbi Yitzchok Breitowitz of Jlaw.com, “Taking one’s life is regarded as halachically and morally improper. While we cannot personally condemn those who in the midst of unbearable pain and suffering take their own lives, we cannot encourage, condone, or participate in the commission of such an act.”
But the Talmud (Ktubot 104.) implies a different view: When Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi was dying and suffering great torment, the sages were praying for his life and thus preventing his death. His maidservant, who saw how many times he would enter the bathroom and remove his phylacteries, and then exit and put them back on, and how he was suffering with his intestinal disease, took a jug and threw it from the rooftop to the ground. The sages were startled by the sudden noise and stopped their begging for Divine mercy momentarily, and Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi was able to die.