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Fri Apr 9, 2021, 11:52 AM

N.M. Gov Lujan Grisham signs aid-in-dying bill

On Thursday, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed into law House Bill 47, known as the Elizabeth Whitefield End-of-Life Options Act, which gives certain patients the right to ask a physician to prescribe drugs to end their suffering. The legislation is named after a New Mexico judge who died of cancer in 2018 after lobbying legislators for years to approve a so-called right-to-die bill.

“It’s important for all patients to know all of their options at the end of life,” said Elizabeth Armijo, advocacy director of Compassion and Choices, a national nonprofit. “And being able to have the option of medical aid in dying will bring tremendous relief to people who may not be able to bear their suffering any longer,” Armijo added. She and other proponents say the new law will give patients facing a painful death more control and an option to die with dignity.

Opponents argue, however, the law could lead to abuse of elderly relatives or prompt people to take their own lives because they fear their terminal illness has made them a burden on loved ones.

Matt Vallière, executive director of the Patients Rights Action Fund, wrote in an email Thursday, “At a time when legislators should be laser-focused on expanding access to quality medical care and treatment options for all New Mexicans, it’s outrageous that they have instead chosen to pass a discriminatory bill aimed at making death more accessible for those with life-threatening disabilities.”


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