A dozen terminally ill patients ended their lives in the first 5 months of New Jersey's medical aid in dying law, according to state data released Friday.

During the 5-month period between August and December 2019, 6 men and 6 women received life-ending prescriptions from their doctors, according to cases filed with the Office of the Chief State Medical Examiner (OCSME). The patient's ages were reported as between 50 and 93, with the average being 71.

Cancer was the leading underlying illness in 7 of the cases, according to the OCSME data.

There also were 3 recorded cases of neuro-degenerative disease, each of those Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), and one each of pulmonary disease and gastrointestinal disorder.

An appeals court on August 27 overturned the restraining order that halted New Jersey’s “Aid in Dying” law, which enables terminally ill people to obtain a prescription and end their lives.

Ten of the patients died at home, another at a nursing home and the remaining at another person’s home, with cases in 8 counties around the state: Mercer, Hunterdon, Bergen, Burlington, Essex, Monmouth, Salem and Union.

New Jersey became the eighth state to allow an attending physician to write a prescription for medication that would enable a qualified terminally ill patient to end his or her life. The law was approved in April 2019 and went into effect August 1, 2019.

Two weeks later, a Superior Court judge granted a temporary restraining order requested by a doctor who was suing the state over the law.

An appeals court overturned the restraining order August 27, 2019, as reported by NJ.com.

The law defines “terminally ill” as “the terminal stage of an irreversibly fatal illness, disease, or condition with a prognosis, based upon reasonable medical certainty, of a life expectancy of six months or less.

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