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

Compassionate Bill Now Goes to the House Floor

Compassion & Choices Action Network praised the New Mexico House Judiciary Committee today for approving a bill (7-3) that would give terminally ill adults the option to die peacefully. Last month, the New Mexico House Health & Human Services Committee voted 7-4 to pass the bill. The compassionate bill now moves to the House floor for their full consideration. 

The legislation, the Elizabeth Whitefield End of Life Options Act (HB 47), would allow terminally ill, mentally capable adults the option to request and receive medication they may decide to take to relieve unbearable suffering. 

“The House Judiciary Committee’s passage is another step towards authorizing this compassionate bill during the 2021 legislative session,” said Elizabeth Armijo, National Advocacy Director for Compassion & Choices Action Network. “We hope legislators give terminally ill New Mexicans the end-of-life care options they deserve.”

There is not one documented case of misuse in the 10 jurisdictions that have authorized medical aid in dying since 1997: California, Colorado, Hawai‘i, Maine, Montana (via a state Supreme Court ruling), New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and Washington, D.C.

During the hearing, Dr. Katherine Morris, a surgical oncologist, testified about the first time she prescribed aid-in-dying medication to a female patient under Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act, after it became evident that her cancer was no longer treatable. 

“The determination to celebrate her life and her family, the peaceful passing she created by exercising her agency under this law was transcendent,” Dr. Morris added. “This is the grace you have the opportunity to extend to terminally ill, mentally competent patients in New Mexico.”

The following organizations have endorsed the New Mexico medical aid-in-dying bill: ACLU of New Mexico, Equality New Mexico, Health Action New Mexico, New Mexico Nurse Practitioner Council, National Association of Social Workers New Mexico, NAACP Albuquerque, New Mexico Psychological Association, New Mexico Public Health Association, Nuestra Salud New Mexico, and Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico. The following state organizations have dropped their opposition to it: New Mexico Association for Home & Hospice Care (NMAHHC), Greater Albuquerque Medical Association (GAMA), and New Mexico Medical Society (NMMS).

While there have been no New Mexico polls on medical aid in dying since 2012, the most recent Gallup poll, conducted in May 2020, a few months after COVID-19 reached the pandemic level, shows 74% of Americans support medical aid in dying, a 6-point jump from the 68% support in Gallup’s pre-pandemic poll in May 2019 (see question 15 on page 2).  

Collectively, there are 23 years of experience with medical aid in dying in Oregon since it became the first state to enact such a law, and an additional 40+ years of combined evidence and cumulative data with medical aid-in-dying laws passed in the nine other jurisdictions. Now, more than one out in every five Americans (22%) have access to this compassionate end-of-life care option.

Compassion & Choices is comprised of two organizations that improve care and expand options at life’s end: Compassion & Choices (501(c)(3)) educates, empowers, defends, and advocates; the Compassion & Choices Action Network (501(c)(4)) focuses exclusively on legislation, ballot campaigns, and limited electoral work. 

Paid for by Compassion & Choices Action Network.