End-of-Life Options Bill Passes Judiciary, Heads to House Floor for Vote

HB 90 Allows Mentally Capable, Terminally Ill Adults to Request & Self-Administer Life-ending Medications

 The Elizabeth Whitefield End of Life Options Act on Wednesday passed the House Judiciary Committee by a vote of 9-3 and will next be voted on by the full House of Representatives.

“The Elizabeth Whitefield End of Life Options Act is a compassionate bill that would give mentally capable, terminally ill adults the option to request a doctor’s prescription for medication they can decide to take to die peacefully in their sleep, if their suffering becomes unbearable,” Armstrong said. “It is my honor to sponsor this bill on behalf of the late Judge Elizabeth Whitefield and so many other New Mexicans who want—and deserve—a peaceful death on their own terms.”

HB 90, which was carefully drafted with input from experts and community members, allows a healthcare provider to prescribe life-ending medication to a patient with no more than six months to live if a healthcare provider has determined that the patient has a terminal illness and is mentally capable of making their own healthcare decisions. The prescription can only be administered by the patient themselves and the prescription can be filled no sooner than 48 hours after it is written. The act contains extensive safeguards against abuse and misuse. The Judiciary Committee heard extensive public testimony on Friday in advance of Wednesday’s committee debate and vote.

Armstrong emphasized that medical aid-in-dying is simply an option and that traditional hospice and palliative care will still be available. What’s more, Armstrong said, hospice care and palliative care have actually improved in states that offer aid-in-dying because, in those states, doctor training in these options increases, as do conversations between patients doctors about end of life.

The bill also specifically allows for healthcare providers and facilities to opt out of participating in aid-in-dying. Healthcare providers will never be required to provide life-ending medications to a patient and healthcare facilities need only have a clear policy prohibiting the practice, if they want to opt out.

“This bill is about choices. Choices for patients and choices for healthcare providers,” Armstrong said. “Only patients and healthcare providers who want to participate in aid-in-dying will do so.”

Further, Armstrong said, end-of-life care options are a matter of personal freedom.

“In New Mexico, we value freedom. We believe that New Mexicans should have the freedom to choose the end-of-life options that are right for them,” Armstrong said.  “No one should be forced to suffer as they die.”

HB 90 will now be scheduled for a vote by the full House.



About Rep. Armstrong: Debbie, Chair of the House Health and Human Services Committee, is a long-time health care advocate serving her second term in the New Mexico House of Representatives. Having started her career as a physical therapist, she has worked extensively as a health care administrator, working 10 years with Presbyterian Medical Services in Santa Fe. Prior to serving as Secretary of New Mexico’s Aging and Long-Terms Services Department, she oversaw the department’s Consumer and Elder Rights Division. Debbie is the mother of three adult children. She lives in Albuquerque’s North Valley.  Follow her on Twitter @NMRepArmstrong and on Facebook, and sign up for email and text updates.

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commented 2019-02-13 21:08:56 -0700 · Flag
Congrats, New Mexico! One step closer. I hope Maine is right behind you!

Paid for by Debbie Armstrong for New Mexico, Jill Riester, Treasurer

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