SANTA FE, New Mexico (AP) – A bill that would legalize physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients in New Mexico passed its first hurdle Friday and is backed by the state’s Democratic governor.
In the Democratic-led party line vote, the Elizabeth Whitfield End of Life Act passed the House Health and Human Services Committee 7-4. The bill is named after a former district judge in the state who testified in favor of physician-assisted suicide in 2017 and died of cancer in 2018.
This would allow terminally ill patients to self-administer or request a prescription for a life-ending medication, usually after a 48-hour waiting period.
The bill will go to the House Judiciary Committee for a further vote, and a parallel bill is being executed in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is likely to support the bill if approved by the Legislature, spokesman Tripp Stelnicki said.
“As an advocate for most of her adult life for the elderly and their independence… it’s something she has tended to support,” he said of the governor on Friday.
A version of the bill was introduced in the 2019 legislative session, but failed to secure a vote in the House. Oregon became the first state with a right to die law in 1998. In 2019, Maine became the eighth.
Editor-in-chief Morgan Lee contributed to this report.
Attanasio is a member of the Associated Press / Report for America Statehouse News Initiative corps. Report for America is a national, non-profit service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to cover undercover issues. To pursue Attanasio on Twitter.