Recently, a New Mexico judge ruled that competent, terminally ill patients have the right to engage with a doctor to end their lives. The ruling was issued by Judge Nan Nash after a two day trial. The decision makes New Mexico the fifth state in the nation to allow doctors to assist terminally ill patients to die.
The suit, initiated by the ACLU and an end-of-life-choice advocacy group, was filed on behalf of two New Mexico doctors and a cancer patient. Judge Nash was asked to determine whether the doctors should be allowed to write prescriptions for the terminally ill cancer patient, who wanted to use drugs to end her life.
“This Court cannot envision a right more fundamental, more private or more integral to the liberty, safety and happiness of a New Mexican than the right of a competent, terminally ill patient to choose aid in dying," Judge Nash wrote. "If decisions made in the shadow of one's imminent death regarding how they and their loved ones will face that death are not fundamental and at the core of these constitutional guarantees, than what decisions are?"
The cancer patient, who is currently in remission, is quoted as saying, "[m]ost Americans want to die peacefully at home, surrounded by loved ones, not die in agony in a hospital. I feel the same way. If my cancer returns and I face intolerable suffering, I want the option to cut it short, and to die peacefully at home."
The New Mexico Attorney General's office is reviewing the case to decide whether it will file an appeal.
Contributed by MH Phoenix Estate Planning Attorney Andrea Claus.
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