Updated: January 29, 2021 06:39 PM
Created: January 29, 2021 05:44 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- A bill that would grant people with a terminal illness the option to end their lives cleared its first legislative hurdle Friday.
The Elizabeth Whitefield End-of-Life Options Act passed it first committee. Whitefield suffered from multiple cancers diagnosis and repeatedly asked to let her die with her dignity.
"This would provide medical aid and dying in New Mexico for adults who are terminally ill, competent to make the decision, and able to self administer the medication," said Rep. Deborah Armstrong.
The state Ombudsman also supports the bill.
However, the bill faces opposition. Armstrong believes the opposition is due to confusion about the bill.
"I think there's some misunderstanding about it," she said. "There's a lot of protections."
Two providers would have to approve the life-ending decision.
"It may take a few days, a couple weeks to get that done, and then a waiting period of 48 hours before you can fill the prescription," Armstrong said.
In other states, Armstrong said up to a third of the people died before they could even get through the process.
"Many people who get the medication don't actually take it," she said.
However, Armstrong said having the medication can offer some relief to patients with a terminal illness.
Armstrong said this bill is also personal.
"I have worked with patients who were in death and dying (situations), who were terminally ill, worked in hospice," she said. "My daughter has advanced stage four cancer. Her father does as well, and it's a personal choice. I would like to have for them when the time comes."
The bill will next be heard in the House Judiciary Committee.
The bill has failed to pass in both the 2017 and 2019 legislative sessions, with Republicans opposed, citing religious and ethical concerns.
Ten states and Washington, D.C. have similar laws in place.
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