Monday, January 11, 2021

New Mexico legislature will once again debate an extreme assisted suicide bill.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Deborah Armstrong (D) who sponsored two previous New Mexico assisted suicide bills has once again sponsored an assisted suicide bill. House Bill 47, which is also known as the Elizabeth Whitefield End-of-Life Options Act, is her latest assisted suicide bill.

Armstrong's 2019 assisted suicide bill, HB 90, was the most extreme US assisted suicide bill that I had seen. Among other concerns, the bill allowed assisted suicide for psychiatric conditions, to be done to someone with an undefined "terminal prognosis," to be done by nurses and physician assistants, and it even allowed it to be approved via tele-medicine.

Similar to previous years, the New Mexico assisted suicide bill is wider than existing assisted suicide legislation.

Similar to HB 90, HB 47 expands who can approve and prescribe lethal drugs from physicians to "health care providers" that include physicians, or licensed physician assistants, or osteopathic physicians, or nurses registered in advanced practice.

Compared to existing assisted suicide legislation, HB 47 expands the list of who can approve and prescribe lethal drugs which not only increases the availability of assisted suicide but enables lesser trained health care providers to approve and prescribe assisted suicide.

HB 47 also expands the list of who may counsel a person, when a "health care provider" questions the ability of a person to consent. HB 47 permitted counselors to include: state-licensed psychiatrist, psychologist, master social worker, psychiatric nurse practitioner or professional clinical mental health counselor.

Unlike existing assisted suicide legislation, HB 47 does not require a 15 day waiting period but only requires a 48 hour waiting period that can be waived if the health care provider believes that the person may be imminently dying. Therefore HB 47 technically allows a same day death. A person could request assisted suicide on a "bad day" and die the same day. Studies prove that the “will to live” fluctuates.

Unlike existing assisted suicide legislation, HB 47 Section 3 (G) waives the requirement that a person's condition be confirmed by a second health care provider if the person requesting assisted suicide is enrolled in a hospice program.

The hospice provision is confirmed by assisted suicide promoter, Thaddeus Pope who stated:
the EWEOLOA does not require confirmation from a (second) consulting clinician if the prescribing clinician affirms that the individual is enrolled in a Medicare certified hospice program.
HB 47 tramples on the conscience rights of health care providers. The bill states that health care providers who are unwilling to carry out a request for assisted suicide shall inform the individual and refer the individual to a health care provider who is able and willing to carry out the individual's request or to another individual or entity to assist the requesting individual in seeking medical aid in dying.

Therefore a conscientious objector must participate in the act by referring the patient to a health care provider who is willing to prescribe lethal drugs.

Deborah Armstrong is intent on legalizing one of the widest assisted suicide bills for New Mexico.

HB 47 allows lesser trained health care providers to prescribe lethal drugs for the purpose of assisting a suicide, a life and death decision. The bill also allows a same day death and all based on "good faith" which is the lowest level of oversight.

For those who are organizing to stop assisted suicide in New Mexico I suggest the following: 
Defeating assisted suicide bills requires a complete analysis of the bill, outlining the problems with the bill. All of these bills are designed to expand over time.

Emphasize what assisted suicide is and how it is done and discuss how the assisted suicide lobby is conducting unethical lethal drug experiments. They speak about compassion and choices and yet they have caused some horrific deaths.

Work together. All perspectives are important, but stay focused on your goal, that being, protecting people from assisted suicide.

Bill HB 47 must be defeated.

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