New Mexico Erases Barriers to Medical Aid in Dying

Reports from Medscape on how New Mexico Erases Some Barriers to Medical Aid in Dying

A new law that allows medical aid in dying (MAID) as an option for terminally ill, mentally capable adults went into effect last month in New Mexico.

New Mexico is the 10th state (plus one jurisdiction) to have such a law, but the legislation in New Mexico is a little different from the laws in the other states ― the New Mexico law has removed barriers to access.

Until now, these laws have been modeled on the original legislation that was passed in Oregon in 1997, the first state to legalize MAID.

New Mexico Erases Barriers to Physician Assistance shows how the State has broken the pattern by removing some of the challenges that patients have faced in trying to gain access to MAID without weakening protections against abuse.

It has “removed some of the unnecessary roadblocks…. This is the first state that has improved upon the Oregon bill, and this is what other states need to be doing,” said Kim Callinan, MPP, PMP, president and chief executive officer of Compassion and Choices, the largest national advocacy group for MAID.

New Mexico bill HB 47, known the Elizabeth Whitfield End-of-Life Act, went into effect on June 1. It was named for a former state district judge who testified in favor of MAID in 2017 and who died of cancer the following year.

It includes several provisions that veer away from the original Oregon model:

For the first time, advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) and physician assistants (PAs) can participate by serving as the prescribing or consulting clinician.
It streamlines the waiting period for receiving aid-in-dying medication to 48 hours and enables the prescribing clinician to waive the waiting period if a person is likely to die before the waiting period expires.

It clarifies that if a clinician objects to participating in MAID, he or she must inform the patient and refer the patient to either a healthcare practitioner who is able and willing to participate or to another individual or entity to assist the requesting individual in seeking this end-of-life option.

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