What is the Medical Aid in Dying Act?
The Medical Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act, also known as the MAID Act, became law in New Jersey in August 2019. This law permits terminally ill, adult patients residing in New Jersey to obtain and self-administer medication to end their lives peacefully and humanely.
Since MAID is still a relatively new law, it’s understandable that many people have misconceptions about MAID and its intended purpose. As elder law attorneys, we wanted to provide you with the facts about this law and help clear up any misconceptions.
Who Can Make a Request Under Maid?
It’s important to state right away that the decision to end an individual’s life is a decision that is driven completely by the individual. Nobody else has the power to make or influence that decision under MAID, including family members, friends, doctors, nurses, hospital administration, and nursing facilities. An individual can of course speak with loved ones, spiritual leaders, doctors, and friends if they choose, but no one other than the individual who is choosing to end his or her life can make this final decision.
What are the Criteria to be Eligible for MAID?
In order to qualify for MAID, an individual must be:
- At least 18 years old
- A New Jersey resident
- Terminally ill with a prognosis of less than 6 months to live
- Mentally competent
- Physically able to administer medications
How Does an Individual Make a MAID Request?
An individual making a MAID request must follow a specific 3-step process.
- The individual has to make his or her first oral request to the doctor.
- The individual must then submit a written request to the doctor stating that they are making this request voluntarily and of their own volition. The written document must contain two witness signatures, with one of those signatures being a disinterested third party. That means one of the signatures cannot be a family member, a doctor, hospital or nursing home staff member, a business partner, or someone who stands to inherit assets from the deceased.
- Within 15 days of the first request, the individual has to make a second oral request to the doctor.
Only once the individual has made a written and two oral requests and a doctor has confirmed that the individual qualifies can an individual receive the medication to end his life. A doctor has the ability to confirm that the patient is making an informed decision by referring the individual for end of life counseling, getting the opinion of a second physician, informing the patient that he can change his mind, discussing alternative solutions with the patient, and requiring a psychological evaluation of the patient to evaluate capacity.
Can the Doctor Refuse to Prescribe the Medication Under MAID?
Yes, a doctor can refused to prescribe life-ending medication if it conflicts with his or her personal beliefs. The law does not compel clinicians to participate.
Where Can I Find Out More About MAID?
This blog covers the basics of MAID, but if you have additional questions about this new law, then contact the team at Archer Brogan at 609-842-9200. We are experienced elder law attorneys focused exclusively on the needs and rights of the elderly, veterans, people with disabilities, and their caregivers.
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For More Information Contact this office (609) 842-9200