Aid in Dying in New Mexico

No, New Mexico does not allow physician Aid in Dying…yet.

This is a controversial and extremely polarized subject. Where some consider physician Aid in Dying to be assisted suicide, others look at it as opportunity to die with dignity. Oregon was the pioneer in Aid in Dying legislation, adopting the Death With Dignity Act in 1997. Since then, Aid in Dying has become legal in Washington, Montana, and Vermont.

In January 2014, it looked like Aid in Dying was possible at least in Bernalillo County, New Mexico, when Second Judicial District Court Judge Nan G. Nash decided that although state law makes it a fourth degree felony to aid another person in the taking of his or her own life, “the liberty, safety and happiness interest of a competent, terminally ill patient to choose aid in dying is a fundamental right under our New Mexico Constitution.” This decision came out of a case where two doctors sought protection from prosecution for providing lethal doses of medication to competent, terminally ill patients. A cancer patient also joined the case wanting to have the option for physician Aid in Dying.

However, the District Court decision was appealed and the New Mexico Court of Appeals decided in August 2015 that ending one’s life with the assistance of a doctor is assisted suicide and is not a fundamental right under the New Mexico Constitution. The New Mexico Supreme Court was asked to consider the case, and they will hear oral arguments on October 26, 2015. Be sure to check back on our blog to find out the fate of Aid in Dying in New Mexico.