Legislature: End-Of Life Options Act Passes Senate


Today, the Senate passed 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 pass away peacefully. The measure passed with a 24-17 vote and will now come back to the House to concur with Senate amendments, before heading to the Governor’s desk.

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), and Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero (D-Albuquerque), House Bill 47: the Elizabeth Whitefield End-of-Life Options Act, contains strict eligibility requirements and extensive safeguards to protect patients and regulate the practice. These include 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.

“We all deserve to live life the way we choose, and when facing a fatal prognosis, to also pass away in a peaceful manner,” said Rep. Armstrong. “Suffering, terminally ill New Mexicans don’t have the luxury of waiting any longer, so I am so grateful to see this vital legislation pass the Senate today, so we can finally provide compassionate options to those nearing the end of their life.” 

“This is such an important bill, providing terminally ill New Mexicans with dignity, compassion, and easing anxiety over the timing and manner of their death,” said Rep. Hochman-Vigil. “In honor of my parents who both passed away from terminal illnesses, I am so proud to be a sponsor of the End-of-Life Options Act and to see it take its final steps before being signed into New Mexico law.” 

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 a total of 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.