Compassion & Choices Launches Statewide Bilingual Access Campaign to Educate New Mexicans about End-of-Life Options
Effort Focused on Terminally Ill Adults and their Families, Healthcare Professionals
June 21, 2021
Compassion & Choices has launched the bilingual New Mexico Access Campaign to educate the public and to provide technical assistance to healthcare providers and healthcare systems about the Elizabeth Whitefield End-of-Life Options Act (HB 47) that goes into effect today. The law gives terminally ill, mentally capable adult residents of New Mexico with six months or less to live the option to request a prescription for medication that they can decide to take to end unbearable suffering by dying peacefully in their sleep.
“Passing the law does not signal the end of the work to expand and improve end-of-life care options in New Mexico,” said Elizabeth Armijo, national advocacy director for Compassion & Choices. “It signals the start of the all-important implementation phase of the law to ensure that eligible New Mexicans have real and meaningful access to the full range of end-of-life care options, including medical aid in dying.”
Compassion & Choices has a plan for New Mexico based on our experience in the 10 other jurisdictions that have authorized this compassionate end-of-life option. Compassion & Choices’ New Mexico website (CompassionAndChoices.org/NewMexico) will provide access to the most recent information about the law and additional information on medical aid in dying. Facts Sheets about medical aid in dying and the New Mexico law in particular are available by clicking here:
The Elizabeth Whitefield End-of-Life Options Act ensures eligible patients will be able to access the law that:
- Allows advanced practice registered nurses and physician assistants to support their patients by serving as either the prescribing or consulting clinician.
- Streamlines the process for receiving a prescription for aid-in-dying medication by requiring only one written request.
- Provides the prescribing provider with the ability to waive the 48 hour waiting period between receiving and filling the prescription for aid-in-dying medication.
- Clarifies that if a healthcare provider objects to participating in medical aid in dying that they must inform the terminally ill person and refer them to either a healthcare provider who is able and willing to carry out the person’s request or to another individual or entity to assist the requesting person in seeking medical aid in dying.
“New Mexicans should start having conversations with their healthcare providers now about whether they would be willing to write a prescription for aid-in-dying medication for an eligible terminally ill patient who requests a prescription,” said Armijo. “There are terminally ill people right now who need this law, so it is urgent for healthcare providers to understand this compassionate medical practice and respect the decisions of terminally ill individuals who want this option for the comfort and peace of mind it brings.”
Compassion & Choices and End-of-Life Options New Mexico are partnering with government agencies, healthcare systems, non-profit organizations and our vast network of volunteers to conduct community trainings and provide resources to ensure that all New Mexicans know that medical aid in dying is an end-of-life care option. The goal is to ensure that healthcare providers can provide their patients with the full range of end-of-life care options, including medical aid in dying.
In addition, the Doc2Doc consultation program offers healthcare providers free, readily available, confidential telephone consultations with one of our seasoned medical directors, each with years of experience in end-of-life medical care.
“It is very important for doctors to understand how to respond to a terminally ill person’s request for medical aid in dying,” said Dr. David Grube, national medical director for Compassion & Choices, who has written aid-in-dying prescriptions authorized by Oregon’s death-with-dignity law. “The doctor’s response should include assessing the patient’s mental capacity to make an informed decision, reviewing the patient’s previous treatment, and offering alternatives to medical aid in dying, such as hospice and palliative care.”
The New Mexico Access Campaign is built on our 24 years of experience, starting with Oregon in 1997, helping to implement medical aid in dying laws in the now 11 jurisdictions that have authorized medical aid in dying as an option for terminally ill, mentally capable adults.