The Passage of the Elizabeth Whitefield End-of-Life Options Act

In March 2021, New Mexico became the 9th state to enact an End-of-Life Options law. After a 2012 court which found Physician Aid in Dying to be a Constitutional state right was overturned on appeal, and the appeal affirmed by the New Mexico Supreme Court in 2016, two attempts at passing End-of-Life Options legislation failed before the most recent attempt passed this year. The new law will go into effect in mid-June, 2021.

The gist of the law is to 1) allow a terminally ill person who has the mental capacity to make an informed decision about whether they want to continue living, to obtain medication with which to end their life, and 2) to protect medical professionals who participate in making such medication available.

The law strikes a balance between providing access while also providing safeguards. The law does not require a health care provider to participate, but provides protections to those who do so within the bounds of the law.

In the end, an individual who is provided with life-ending medication must be able to self-administer it and can opt not to take it. Importantly, the law states that actions taken in accordance with the law are not considered to be suicide or assisted suicide.

While there are certainly wide-ranging views on this law, there are many who will find peace in having a lawful option for ending their suffering on their own terms. 

A summary of the New Mexico law, its history in the making, as well as links to other End-of-Life Options Advocacy organizations can be found on the Compassion & Choices website: