New Mexico Medical Aid-in-Dying Bill Clears House Health Committee

January 28, 2019

(Santa Fe, NM) — The New Mexico House Health & Human Services Committee today approved a bill that would allow terminally ill adults the option to request a doctor’s prescription for medication they can decide to take to die peacefully in their sleep if their suffering becomes unbearable by a 4-3 vote. The Elizabeth Whitefield End of Life Options Act (SB 153/HB 90) now moves to the House Judiciary Committee.

“The Health & Human Services Committee Committee’s stamp of approval is a major step towards passing a law to give terminally ill New Mexicans the option to shorten an unbearable dying process,” said Kim Callinan, chief executive officer for Compassion & Choices. “Terminally-ill New Mexicans should have the same option that people in seven other states and Washington, D.C. have to decide how much suffering is too much to bear at life’s end.”

The city councils of Las Cruces, Santa Fe and Albuquerque recently voted on bipartisan resolutions in support of medical aid-in-dying, and polling shows that 65 percent of New Mexicans support the legislation.

On Tuesday, January 29,  supporters will gather at the State Capitol to meet with legislators as part of a “Day of Advocacy” after a rally and news conference scheduled at the Rotunda for 9 a.m. MDT.

“I am grateful that my colleagues on the Committee voted to pass the End of Life Options Act today. No one should be forced to suffer as they die,” said Rep. Debbie Armstrong, who chairs the House Health & Human Services Committee. “This end-of-life care option is about personal freedom and liberty. Mentally capable New Mexicans with a terminal illness deserve to have their wishes honored.”

“We have lost some powerful and courageous advocates for medical aid in dying in recent years who gave us their precious time during their last days of life. We owe it to them to ensure that other terminally ill New Mexicans do not suffer needlessly by passing this legislation,” said Elizabeth Armijo, Regional Campaign & Outreach Manager for Compassion & Choices. “Terminally-ill New Mexicans and their families need to be made aware that this bill would allow them to evaluate additional healthcare options available to them at the end of life.”

María D. Otero, Founder/Director, Nuestra Salud in Albuquerque, spoke about her father-in-law Pablo, who died of cancer March 8 after suffering from extreme bone and back pain, difficulty walking, incontinence and weakness throughout his frail body. A devout Catholic, Pablo was grounded in his faith to the last moments of his life, but he wanted to die peacefully without needlessly suffering.

“This is not living,” she said as she recalled his words. “Please give me something to stop the pain to end my suffering.”

Testimony was also provided by Dan Diaz, who spoke of his late wife Brittany Maynard, the California woman who moved to Oregon so she could die peacefully when she could no longer tolerate the suffering caused by a brain tumor.

“In honor of Brittany’s legacy, it’s been my privilege to work with New Mexico legislators to help pass their End of Life Option Act,” he said. “New Mexicans should be afforded the option of a gentle dying process without having to move from their state as Brittany did.”

Brittany’s advocacy inspired California, Colorado, the District of Columbia and Hawai‘i to pass laws authorizing medical aid in dying since she died on Nov. 1, 2014. Thanks to previously passed laws in Oregon, Washington, and Vermont, and a Montana Supreme Court ruling in a lawsuit filed by Compassion & Choices, nearly one out of five Americans live in a jurisdiction where this end-of-life care option is available.

Dan Diaz is also slated to address supporters during Tuesday’s advocacy day along with bill sponsor Rep. Debbie Armstrong and supporter Rep. Micaela Lara Cadena.

Compassion & Choices
Media Contacts

Sean Crowley
Media Relations Director
[email protected]

Patricia A. González-Portillo
National Latino Media Director
[email protected]
(323) 819 0310

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