New Mexico State Senate Passes Medical Aid-in-Dying Bill

House Expected to Concur With Amended Senate Bill Before Governor Signs It Into Law
March 15, 2021

Compassion & Choices Action Network today praised the New Mexico State Senate for approving a medical aid-in-dying bill by a vote of 24 to 17. The Elizabeth Whitefield End-of-Life Options Act (HB 47), as amended on the Senate floor, will be sent back to the House for agreement in the coming days. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham is expected to sign it into law and New Mexico will become the 11th U.S. jurisdiction to allow medical aid in dying as an option for terminally ill, mentally capable adults.

“We thank the New Mexico State Senate for listening to the voices of terminally ill New Mexicans and passing the Elizabeth Whitefield End of Life Options Act,” said Kim Callinan, Compassion & Choices Action Network president and CEO. “The COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized the importance of a peaceful death. We are one step closer to providing terminally ill New Mexicans with the option of dying peacefully without intolerable suffering.”

“Today is monumental”, said Judge Whitefield’s husband of 33 years, Paul Thorne. “Throughout her life and illness, Elizabeth lived with grace, courage, strength, and was always positive. Her last wish was to see the passage of this bill that now bears her name, I am grateful to our New Mexico lawmakers.”

“Members of the Senate courageously acted on behalf of New Mexicans today,” said Elizabeth Armijo, national advocacy director for Compassion & Choices Action Network. “Terminally ill patients should have the ability to decide what is right for them with their doctor, their family and other loved ones. Today we celebrate the culmination of decades of advocacy for and by terminally ill New Mexicans.”

The most recent national 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. This is a 6-point jump from the 68% support in Gallup’s pre-pandemic poll in May 2019.

It has been 22 years since Oregon became the first state to enact a medical aid-in-dying law. Collectively, there are more than 50 years of combined evidence and cumulative data on medical aid in dying, which is authorized in 10 jurisdictions: California, Colorado, Hawai‘i, Maine, Montana, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and Washington, D.C. Currently, more than one  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.

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VICTORY: Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed the improved End-of-Life Options Act.