At least two witnesses must sign the request for assisted suicide, as must the patient. The bill requires a 48-hour waiting period between a doctor writing a prescription for lethal drugs and the prescription being filled.
The bill does provide that the medical professional must inform the patient of “potential associated risks” with taking the lethal medication, as well as “concurrent or additional treatment opportunities, including hospice care and palliative care focused on relieving symptoms and reducing suffering.”
The Senate passed the bill on March 16 by a 24-17 vote, largely along party lines, with two Democrats voting against it. The bill passed the House last month.
Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is believed likely to sign the bill. The Associated Press reported that if signed into law, New Mexico would become the second state to pass a right-to-die law where a third or more of adults are Catholic, after New Jersey.
In 2019 a similar bill also called the “Elizabeth Whitefield End of Life Options Act” failed to pass the New Mexico House of Representatives.
That version of the bill did not clearly define whether residents of states other than New Mexico might be allowed to avail themselves of assisted suicide. It was reported in some publications that the bill lacked a residency requirement completely, meaning patients coming from other states to seek the procedure, so-called “suicide tourism,” could become a reality.
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The 2021 bill includes a residency requirement.
The current bill would require some statistics to be collected on the characteristics of individuals who receive prescriptions for assisted suicide. However, it would require the cause of death to be listed as the person’s underlying illness, not assisted suicide.
Health care entities, professional associations, and similar organizations are barred from censuring or disciplining both licensed professionals who aid in legal assisted suicide and those who refuse to aid in legal assisted suicide. Entities that ban assisted suicide from taking place in their facilities or by professionals in their employ may sanction those who nonetheless assist in a suicide.