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New Mexico End of Life Options Act into effect

On June 18, the Elizabeth Whitefield End of Life Options Act went into effect. Terminally ill New Mexico residents can now begin the qualification process to receive aid-in-dying medication through the Elizabeth Whitefield End-of-Life Options Act. 

The act was signed into law on April 8 of this year. New Mexico is the 10th state and 11th jurisdiction in the United States that allowed people with a terminal illness to die the way they want.

The law

The new law is named after Elizabeth Whitefield, a New Mexico judge who died of cancer in 2018 after years of lobbying for the passage of an aid in dying law. Rep. Debbie Armstrong, D-Albuquerque, the main sponsor of the bill, said Whitefield would have been ‘greatly relieved, satisfied, happy’ to know her effort finally met success. Armstrong’s daughter Erin, who is in her 40s, spoke in favor of the bill before a legislative committee earlier this year. She told the lawmakers she has been fighting a 20-year battle with cancer. While she ‘desperately’ wants to keep living, she said, she is aware she likely will not survive the disease. Armstrong said her daughter now has a ‘great relief that she doesn’t have to worry about being in agony when the time comes.’

Similar to the laws in other U.S. states, the law requires a “terminal” diagnosis of less than six months to live and requires the dying person to be able to “self-administer” the needed medications, but has a major improvement in requiring only a 48-hour waiting period.

  • NO 14 day waiting period but a 48 hr. waiting period between the time a scrip is written and the time it can be filled, this waiting period can be waived if the patient is near death.
  • NPs and PAs can be prescribing providers, as long as one provider is an MD or DO.
  • The patient needs only one provider if already enrolled in hospice. Only one “ask”.
  • Universal “right to know.”
  • A provider cannot be sanctioned in any way for participating or not participating.