Two bills allowing physician-assisted suicide failed in New Mexico and Arkansas last week.
According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, Rep. Deborah Armstrong (D-Albuquerque) of New Mexico requested to table the HB 90 bill for the 2019 legislative session. “At the time, we are just a few votes shy to pass the bill,” she said. She and Sen. Elizabeth Stefanics (D-Cerrillos) sponsored the bill.
HB 90 would allow patients to end their lives after authorization from two medical providers and a 48 hour waiting period once life-ending drugs had been prescribed, as reported by the Las Cruces Sun News. The Santa Fe New Mexican also included other stipulations of the bill: Patients who had six months or less to live would be required to get two witnesses’ signatures on the request; doctors must discuss alternatives, such as hospice care; and, a patient must acquire a second opinion.
Opponents of this bill include Rep. Gregg Schmedes (R-Tijeras), who believed this bill could allow for abuse from predatory family heirs or others. “It allows for the perfect crime,” he said.
Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, claimed the HB 90 bill was the most extreme assisted suicide bill she’d ever seen, according to Life News, because it allowed euthanasia.
Death with Dignity, an organization that promotes dignity laws for dying individuals, said, “There is an identical companion bill [to HB 90] … in the New Mexico State Senate. The bill allows a terminal ill, mentally capable adult the option…to die peacefully in their sleep if their suffering becomes unbearable.”
The Santa Fe New Mexican reported that it is currently a felony to assist a patient in ending life in New Mexico. In 2014, the Supreme Court ruled that medical aid in dying is not a constitutional right.
In Arkansas, Rep. Dan Douglas (R-Bentonville) sponsored a bill to also allow physician-assisted suicide. According to KATV, he said that the bill did not allow euthanasia. It was about giving terminally-ill Arkansans an option. Similar to the bill in New Mexico, Douglas’ bill would not require doctors or health care facilities to participate in the procedure, according to the Washington Times. The patient would have to ask a doctor twice within 15 days to write a prescription for a lethal-dose of drugs. It would be an exception to Arkansas’ ban on physician-assisted suicide.
The bill failed in the House Public Health Committee when it didn’t receive a motion to send to the chamber floor, according to the Washington Times.
The Christian Post reports that physician-assisted suicide is currently legal in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Vermont, Washington state, the District of Columbia, and Montana.
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Mikaela Mathews is a freelance writer and editor based in Dallas, TX. She was the editor of a local magazine and a contributing writer for the Galveston Daily News and Spirit Magazine. She blogs at mikaelamathews.com.