Legislature: End-Of-Life Act Passes Committee


Today, the House Health and Human Services Committee advanced legislation which enables terminally ill, mentally competent adults in New Mexico, who are given six or less months to live, the option to obtain medication allowing them to die peacefully. 

Sponsored by Rep. Debbie Armstrong (D-Albuquerque) and Rep. Dayan Hochman Vigil (D-Albuquerque), House Bill 47 the Elizabeth Whitfield End-of-Life Options Act, contains strict eligibility requirements and extensive safeguards to protect patients and regulate the practice, including confirmation of the terminal illness by two medical professionals, confirmation of mental capacity, a 48-hour waiting period, a written request with two signing witnesses, and the option for the patient to change their mind at any point.

“New Mexicans deserve respect, compassion and autonomy over their own bodies,” said Rep. Armstrong. “House Bill 47 would provide those who have only months to live with control over timing and manner of their death, allowing them to choose to pass in a peaceful, dignified manner that ends their suffering.”

“I have witnessed first hand the critical need for this legislation, after losing both my parents to terminal illnesses, just four years apart. Legal Aid in Dying would have eased their suffering, and I want to make sure these compassionate options are available to all New Mexicans who need it going forward,” said Rep. Hochman Vigil. “It is the honor of my life to cosponsor this bill as a tribute to my parents, who I miss every day.” 

House Bill 47 passed the House Health and Human Services Committee with a vote of 7-4, and will be heard next in the House Judiciary Committee. 

HB 47 is modeled after Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act, which has been in place for more than two decades, with zero instances of abuse or coercion. Similar legislation is in place in nine other states and the District of Columbia. 

Members of the public can track legislation on the New Mexico Legislature website, access committee meetings and House floor sessions via the Webcasts tab, or participate by Zoom to provide public comment on committee hearings. During the 2021 Legislative Session, the House of Representatives is focused on passing critical legislation while protecting the health and safety of the public, the staff, and the legislators.