Bill to Decriminalize Assisted Suicide Moves Ahead in the House

Bill to Decriminalize Assisted Suicide Moves Ahead in the House

House Bill 171 Sets Standards for Health Care Providers to Provide Medical Aid in Dying to the Terminally Ill

Santa Fe, NM – A bill decriminalizing assisted suicide passed the House Health and Human Services Committee today by a vote of 4-3 following two hours of emotional testimony by supporters of the bill. The End of Life Options Act, sponsored by Representatives Debbie Armstrong (D-Albuquerque) and Bill McCamley (D-Mesilla Park), sets standards for health care providers for when they can assist a terminally ill patient in dying and it decriminalizes that assistance.

“Aid-in-dying legislation is about giving competent, terminally ill New Mexicans the ability to make the end-of-life decisions that are best for them and their families,” Armstrong said. “I’ve cared for dying friends, sleeping at the foot of one friend’s bed so that I could help her manage her pain. Competent, terminally ill New Mexicans, like my dear friend, deserve to decide how they want to spend their final days. End-of-life decision-making can be difficult to talk about, but that’s why it’s so important that we do talk about it.”

House Bill 171 would only apply to adults who are of mental capacity, are terminally ill, and have the ability to self-administer the medical-aid-in-dying medication.  It also allows the patient to list the underlying terminal illness as the cause of death on their death certificate.  As of the 2016 election, five states and Washington DC have laws allowing physician assisted-suicide.