ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The New Mexico Senate has narrowly stopped the furtherance of a proposed bill that would have legalized physician-assisted suicide in the state.
Senate Bill 252 was voted down 22-20 as seven Democrats joined the Republicans who opposed the measure.
“A health care provider may provide medical aid in dying to an adult patient if the health care provider determines that the patient: (1) has capacity; (2) has a terminal illness; (3) has voluntarily made the request for medical aid in dying,” the bill read in part.
It requires the ailing patient to sign a form that attests that they have six months or less to live and that they understand that they will die if they take the requested lethal prescription. Two witnesses are also required to sign the document, and two doctors must attest that the person is mentally competent.
The bill had been presented by Sens. Liz Stefanics, D-Cerrillos, and Deborah Armstrong, D-Albuquerque, and cleared the Senate Public Affairs Committee on March 3.
However, it was also opposed by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez and Right to Life New Mexico, as well as Catholic groups in the state.
“You have to be actively involved in some way, from educating yourself or giving support to the organizations that are educating others, or [being] involved in the political arena,” Right to Life Executive Director Dauneen Dolce told One News Now. “If you don’t do that, you are handing over our state [and] our laws, and the culture of death will come to us—and that will be from apathy.”
Assisted suicide is currently a fourth-degree felony in New Mexico. Last June, the state Supreme Court unanimously ruled that it was wrong for a lower court to strike down the state’s prohibition against euthanasia.
“If we were to recognize an absolute, fundamental right to physician aid in dying, constitutional questions would abound regarding legislation that defined terminal illness or provided for protective procedures to assure that a patient was making an informed and independent decision,” Justice Edward Chavez wrote on behalf of the panel.
The state Court of Appeals had likewise concluded that the right to life took precedence over the desire to die.
“At its core, aid in dying challenges the longstanding and historic interest in the protection of life until its natural end as well as the equally longstanding prohibition against assisting another in hastening that process,” it stated. “This treasured right to life is not only considered sacred under the common law but is also recognized as an inalienable right, even for those condemned to death.”
Job 14:5 explains that man’s “days are determined, the number of his months are with Thee; Thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass.”