SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A bill that would legalize medically assisted suicide for terminally ill patients in New Mexico passed its first hurdle Friday and is backed by the state’s Democratic governor.
In the Democratic-led party-line vote, the Elizabeth Whitfield End-Of-Life Act passed the House Health and Human Services Committee 7-4. The bill is named for a former state district judge who testified in favor of physician-assisted suicide in 2017 and died of cancer in 2018.
It would allow terminally ill patients the right to administer a life-ending drug to themselves or request to be prescribed one, typically after a 48-hour waiting period.
The bill will head to the House Judiciary Committee for an additional vote, and a parallel bill is running through the Democratic-controlled Senate.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is likely to support the bill if approved by the Legislature, spokesman Tripp Stelnicki said.
“As an advocate for most of her adult life for seniors and their independence … that’s something that she has tended to support,” he said of the governor on Friday.
A version of the bill was introduced in the 2019 legislative session but failed to get a vote in the House. Oregon became the first state with a right-to-die law in 1998. In 2019, Maine became the eighth.
Staff writer Morgan Lee contributed to this report.
Attanasio is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues. Follow Attanasio on Twitter.