The recent Fairleigh Dixon poll of 819 New Jersey residents indicates that the issue of assisted suicide is extremely controversial amongst voters.
The 51% support indicated in this last survey is far lower than a Connecticut Quinnipiac poll showing 61% support and a University of Massachusetts voters survey of Massachusetts voters in 2012 showing that 65% of voters supported it at the time. Assisted suicide legalization efforts in both Connecticut and Massachusetts were both subsequently defeated at the statehouse and the ballot box. The Fairleigh Dixon poll result of New Jersey voters shows that this recent bill by Asm. John Burzichelli remains extremely contentious.
Opposed by every major state and national disability rights organization, the Medical Society of New Jersey and a variety of faith-based organizations, assisted suicide remains unpopular among many important constituencies from progressives to conservatives.
"Why any legislator would want to hitch their career to legalizing assisted suicide is beyond me. Democratic legislators in particular need to know that progressive organizations in New Jersey and across the country have long opposed assisted suicide as targeting people living with disabilities and chronic illness. These laws send discriminatory messages about disability, with implicit and explicit messages about what choices we ought to make," noted John B. Kelly, New Jersey native and Director of Second Thoughts Massachusetts.
"In state after state throughout the Northeast, the more voters and legislators learned about what assisted suicide really is, the more they opposed it."
John Kelly grew up in Middletown Township, New Jersey, and is now New England regional director for the national disability rights group Not Dead Yet. Kelly has been instrumental in educating the public on the dangers of assisted suicide legislation.