Legislature: Compassionate Medical Aid-in-Dying Passes House


On Friday, after an emotional and heartfelt debate, legislation providing terminally ill New Mexicans with the option to end their life with dignity passed the House of Representatives. 

Sponsored by Representative Debbie Armstrong (D – Albuquerque)Representative Dayan Hochman-Vigil (D – Albuquerque), Representative Patricia Roybal Caballero (D – Albuquerque)Senator Elizabeth “Liz” Stefanics (D – Cerrillos), and Senator Bill O’Neill (D – Albuquerque), House Bill 47: The Elizabeth Whitefield End-of-Life Options Act provides terminally ill New Mexicans with control over the timing and manner of their death, allowing them to choose to pass in a peaceful, dignified manner. 

Based on the State of Oregon’s decades-old Death with Dignity Act, House Bill 47 puts in place a system of Medical Aid-in-Dying with time-proven safeguards which protect vulnerable individuals from coercion but makes end-of-life care available to those who want and need it. 

“This bill is about options at end of life. Options for patients and options for healthcare providers,” said Rep. Armstrong. “In New Mexico, we value freedom and we believe New Mexicans who are in the midst of deep suffering should have the freedom to choose the end-of-life options that are right for them. I am incredibly grateful to this House body who has chosen to pass this legislation today.”

During the debate,  Rep. Armstrong shared the personal story of her daughter Erin, 39, who has managed her cancer for more than 20 years which has begun metastasizing in her bones, lungs, liver, and brain saying, “I want my daughter to be surrounded by loved ones if that day should come, and with peace of mind that she has the option to life, and death.”

Rep. Day Hochman-Vigil also shared the story of her mother, who lived through weeks of pain wanting, but unable, to end her life. “When our loved ones are at the end of their lives and in pain, if they want to pass in peace, it should be their decision,” said Rep. Day Hochman-Vigil. “This issue is difficult, but ultimately it is not about religion, philosophy, or politics, it’s about autonomy.”

House Bill 47: The Elizabeth Whitefield End-of-Life Options Act passed the House of Representatives with a vote of 39-27, and goes to the Senate for consideration. The bill would allow terminally ill, mentally competent adults, who are given six or fewer months to live, with the option to request and self-administer medication that allows them to pass away peacefully. 

According to a recent Gallup Poll, nearly three-fourths of Americans agree that “when a person has a disease that cannot be cured… doctors should be allowed by law to end the patient’s life by some painless means if the patient and his or her family request it.” Currently, Aid in Dying is legal in nine other states and the District of Columbia, and physicians by nearly 2-1, support this ethical medical practice.

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.