New Mexico lawmakers advance aid-in-dying legislation

New Mexico lawmakers advance aid-in-dying legislation
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New Mexico lawmakers advanced legislation over the weekend that would permit terminally ill patients expected not to live longer than six months to receive medical assistance to end their lives.

The Mexico state Senate Judiciary Committee voted along party lines to take the vote for House Bill 47 to the state Senate floor, with Democrats approving and Republicans opposing. 

The legislation had previously passed the New Mexico state House last month as the first bill supporting aid-in-dying to pass one of the chambers of the state legislature, the Albuquerque Journal reported.  

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Under the legislation, a patient seeking to end their life would need to self-administer the medication after a doctor’s prescription. Doctors can provide the prescription once they confirm that the patient has the mental capacity to make the decision and that they are expected to die within six months from the illness. 

The request for the medication would need to be in writing, and most of the time, the patient would have to wait 48 hours before retrieving the prescription. Two witnesses, including at least one person who is not related to the patient, would have to sign the request for a prescription.

New Mexico Rep. Deborah Armstrong (D), who co-sponsored the bill, cited her daughter Erin’s experience with an inoperable brain tumor as reasoning for the legislation, according to the Journal.

“She has made all her own health care decisions,” Armstrong said. “At the end of her life, she deserves the ability to make that decision again.”

Opponents to the legislation spoke out against the bill, saying some, including elderly patients or those with disabilities, could face pressure to move forward with dying. 

Jay Santillanes, a lobbyist for the Navajo Nation president’s office, criticized the legislation saying it would “have a disproportionate impact on disadvantaged communities like ours,” the Journal reported. 

Eight states and Washington, D.C., have passed aid-in-dying legislation, including California and New Jersey, according to Death with Dignity.