N.J. Woman Used New Law to End Life

 In Nurses Weekly

Nine months ago, doctors told Zeporah “Zebbie” Geller her nagging back pain was terminal lung cancer. It was likely she had just months to live, even with treatment.

Zebbie didn’t cry. She accepted that chemotherapy and its side effects would not allow her to live the independent, busy life the grandmother and retired teacher had so carefully cultivated.

She wanted to plan her death—down to the final moments.

The law has a minimum 15-day waiting period between the time the patient must make two verbal requests to die and one written statement before two doctors agree to assist with the process.

The Gellers started making calls to doctors in July after her treating physician declined to take the lead. They found the names of doctors who publicized support for the law before it passed. Those doctors also declined.

Some physicians said their hospital had not yet enacted a policy telling them what to do. Others said they supported the idea but were not yet ready to take on the responsibility.

They called at least 40 doctors to find the two they needed who would review her medical file and attest Zebbie met the qualifications: terminally ill with six months or less to live; of sound mind and able to request verbally and in writing the wish to die; physically able to ingest the lethal prescription without assistance.

In the middle of their search…


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