Tuesday, April 13, 2021

New Mexico passes a dangerous, discriminatory assisted suicide law.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Matt Valliere
Matt Valliere, the executive director of the Patients Rights Action Fund, wrote a scathing review of the New Mexico assisted suicide law that was published in Newsweek today.

Valliere criticises New Mexico for legalizing assisted suicide during the pandemic but he focuses on how these laws are suseptible to abuse, mistakes and coercion. He first focuses on the fact that the New Mexico law permits non-doctors to participate in assisted suicide. He states:

Beyond the fact that every supposed "safeguard" in the New Mexico law and others like it is unenforceable and circumventable, legislators in the state have allowed medical professionals with less training to facilitate patients' suicide. Doctors themselves are not always accurate in their prognostications, and patients could throw away good months, years or even decades over a best-guess mistake. Patients like Jeannette Hall, who would have killed herself with assisted suicide but is, thankfully, still alive decades later.

New Mexico legislators have endangered vulnerable patients by allowing even physician assistants and nurse practitioners to determine that a requesting patient has six months or less to live and provide them with suicide drugs. Medicare clearly prohibits nurse practitioners and physician assistants from certifying a terminal prognosis of six months when it comes to hospice eligibility. Suicide cannot be undone, and no matter who is determining eligibility, medical professionals make mistakes.

As I wrote in the past, Valliere focuses on why the New Mexico assisted suicide bill is the most permissive bill in the nation. Valliere comments on the law:

It defines "adult" as "a resident of the state who is eighteen years of age or older," but repeatedly uses the term "individual" rather than "adult" to delineate who is eligible for assisted suicide. Notably, the term "individual" is not defined, meaning that assisted suicide could be made available to non-residents and even children, potentially making New Mexico not only a destination for irresponsible suicide "tourism," but also the abuse of minors.

Valliere then exposes some of the assisted suicide abuses from Oregon

Assisted suicide laws invite elder and disability abuse while granting immunity to all those participating. For example, Michael Freeland, who had experienced acute depression and attempted suicide multiple times over several decades, received the lethal prescription and was left at home with the suicide drugs, even though medical professionals had previously removed all other means of his taking his own life from his home. So too, an elderly dementia patient, Kate Cheney, was referred for the non-required psychiatric evaluation and denied the lethal dose. Then, her daughter shopped around for a doctor until she found one who would say Ms. Cheney had "capacity" to make this life-and-death decision; that same doctor wrote in the report that Ms. Cheney's "choices may be influenced by her family's wishes and her daughter, Erika, may be somewhat coercive."

Valliere concludes his article by urging other states to reject assisted suicide.

Giving medical professionals immunity to assist in their patients' suicide not only fails to address any of the system's problems, but exacerbates the current disparities. The rest of us can avoid making the same mistake in other states by rejecting dangerous and discriminatory assisted suicide laws.

Previous articles about the New Mexico assisted suicide bill that is now the law

  • New Mexico poised to legalize assisted suicide (Link).
  • I was frustrated by the lies told during the New Mexico assisted suicide HB 47 legislative hearings (Link).
  • New Mexico legislature will once again debate an extreme assisted suicide bill (Link).

1 comment:

J D Vasquez said...

New Mexico citizens were literally locked out of the 2021 legislative process by a 6-foot fence that surrounded the capitol throughout the 60-day session costing taxpayers $700,000. Committee meetings were tightly controlled through Zoom.
Our legislature was literally bought with hundreds of thousands of dollars flowing into the state's primary election to remove moderates from the House of Representatives. The State of New Mexico has turned a blind eye toward New Mexican citizens by passing euthanasia, legalization of marijuana and ending all restrictions on abortion.