Current law regarding assisted suicide
Assisting Suicide consists of deliberately aiding another in the taking of his own life. Whoever commits assisting suicide is guilty of a fourth degree felony.
(N,M.Stat. § 30-2-4)
Challenge to New Mexico law
On March 15, 2012, two doctors filed a challenge to New Mexico’s law on assisted suicide in the Second Judicial District Court of New Mexico (Morris v. New Mexico). According to attorneys in the case, the plaintiffs are seeking to exempt doctor-prescribed suicide which they call “aid-in-dying” from the assisted suicide law. Attorneys for the plaintiffs are from the ACLU of New Mexico and Denver-based Compassion & Choices.
An Amended Complaint was filed on May 9, 2012.
“Opinion: Physician-assisted suicide a slippery slope”
(Health Policy Solutions — February 18, 2013)
“Without a change to the current New Mexico law, the only thing hindering dying patients from committing suicide is their conscience…..[A]sk your physician this question: If your patient has received the prescription of Seconal that YOU prescribed and has made all his/her arrangements for death and he/she comes to your office and you find him/her on the ledge of the building: what are you, the physician obligated to do?”
“Steve Lopez: End of life case in New Mexico may affect California”
(Los Angeles Times — August 14, 2012)
Tucker [Kathryn Tucker, legal affairs director for Compassion & Choices] said California’s statute on assisting suicide is similarly vague, and if the New Mexico court rules in favor of allowing aid in dying, “it could have persuasive influence in California.”
“Doctors, patient challenge New Mexico assisted suicide ban”
(Health Policy Solutions — July 11, 2012)
The question before the court in New Mexico is absurdly simple and yet impossibly complex: What is the meaning of “assisted suicide”?
A similar lawsuit filed in Connecticut was dismissed by the state Superior Court in 2010. In its ruling the court said, “taking one’s own life even for a sympathetic reason is suicide” and therefore physician immunity from prosecution does not apply.
“Some Want A Choice At the End of the Road”
(ABQ Journal — May 20, 2012)
“I’m actually going to take a pen and write a prescription for something that will end someone’s life.” Katherine Morris is one of two New Mexico oncologists bringing a lawsuit that asks the court to make a distinction between “assisting suicide,” which is a felony in New Mexico, and a physician “aiding in dying,” which is doing just what Morris did twice in Oregon — prescribing a lethal dose of medicine, usually Seconal pills.
“Santa Fe woman joins lawsuit to clarify state law making assisted suicide a felony”
(Santa Fe New Mexican — May 9, 2012)
State law currently says, “Assisting suicide consists of deliberately aiding another in the taking of his own live. Whoever commits assisting suicide is guilty of a fourth degree felony.”
But “aid in dying is not suicide,” said Kathryn Tucker, director of legal affairs for Compassion and Choices. “People used to refer to it that way, but it’s terribly inaccurate.”
Aid in dying, she said occurs when a physician writes a prescription for a lethal dose of a medication for a mentally competent, terminally ill patient, who can then choose whether or not, when and where to ingest the medication.