Legislature: End-Of-Life Options Act Advances To Senate Floor


On Sunday, legislation enabling 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 and with dignity passed the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

Sponsored by Rep. Debbie Armstrong (D-Albuquerque),  Senator Elizabeth “Liz” Stefanics (D-Cerrillos), Senator Bill O’Neill (D-Albuquerque), Rep. Dayan Hochman-Vigil (D-Albuquerque), Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero (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. The patient would administer the medication themselves.

“What we are doing with this bill is giving those who are terminally ill, mentally competent, and at the end of their lives the chance to pass with dignity,” said Rep. Armstrong. “Providing these individuals the option to choose when to die is about respecting their free will and the lives they’ve lived.”

“Nine other states recognize the need for compassion and autonomy towards the end of life, and have passed legislation similar to the End-of-Life Options Act,” said Rep. Hochman-Vigil. “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.” 

House Bill 47 passed the Senate Judiciary Committee with a vote of 5-3, and will be heard next on the Senate Floor.

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

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.” 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.