Physician-Assisted Suicide Ruled Legal by New Mexico Judge
A Jan. 13, 2014 ruling by Second Judicial Judge Nan G. Nash may make New Mexico the fifth US state to legalize physician-assisted suicide. The decision prohibits the prosecution of physicians who help competent terminally ill patients end their lives.
The ACLU and Compassion and Choices filed the lawsuit against New Mexico in Mar. 2012 on behalf of Sante Fe oncologists Katherine Morris, MD, and Aroop Mangalik, MD, and Aja Riggs, a Santa Fe resident in remission from advanced uterine cancer.
Laura Schauer Ives, Legal Director of ACLU of New Mexico, stated, “New Mexicans, both healthy and sick, now enjoy the comfort and peace of mind that come with knowing they can prevent a prolonged, agonized dying process at the end of life.”
Allen Sanchez, executive director of the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops, stated, “As long as there is a chance for human error, we can’t have that. You can never reverse the decision you’ve made. It’s the finality of it… If we are not willing to give that ability to a judge and jury by doing away with the death penalty in New Mexico, we should not be willing to give one doctor and two witnesses that ability.”
The New Mexico Attorney General’s Office is analyzing the ruling to determine if the state will file an appeal to the State Supreme Court. If the ruling is affirmed, it will apply to the state of New Mexico as a whole.
ACLU of New Mexico, “Morris v. NM,” www.aclu.nm.org, Mar. 15, 2012
Susan Montoya Bryan, “New Mexico Right to Die Case: Ruling Will Allow Doctors to Help Terminally Ill Patients End Their Lives,” www.huffingtonpost.com, Jan. 14, 2014
Erik Eckholm, “New Mexico Judge Affirms Right to ‘Aid in Dying,'” www.nytimes.com, Jan. 13, 2014
Michah McCoy, “Victory! NM Court Says Physician Aid in Dying Is a Fundamental Right, ” www.aclu-nm.org, Jan. 13, 2014
“Katherine Morris, MD, Aroop Mangalik, MD, and Aja Riggs v. Kari Brandenberg, District Attorney for Bernalillo County, and Gary King, Attorney General of the State of New Mexico,” www.newmexico.tylerhost.net, Jan. 13, 2014
Lateef Mungin, “New Mexico Doctors Can Help Terminal Patients Die, Judge Says,” www.cnn.com, Jan. 14, 2014