NRL News

New Mexico’s Radical Assisted Suicide Legislation

by | Jan 3, 2019

By Wesley J. Smith

Assisted suicide advocates pretend they just want a very limited death license, a “safety valve,” as they put it, for suffering in the terminally ill that cannot otherwise be alleviated (almost always, a false premise).

The problem is, their laws and proposals never actually read that way. And now a legalization bill in New Mexico shows the true radical heart of the assisted suicide/euthanasia agenda.

The bill would allow non-doctors to lethally prescribe. From HB 90:

“Health care provider” means any of the following individuals authorized pursuant to the New Mexico Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act to prescribe a medication to be used in medical aid in dying:

  1. a physician licensed pursuant to the Medical Practice Act;
  2. an osteopathic physician licensed pursuant to the Osteopathic Medicine Act;
  3. a nurse licensed in advanced practice pursuant to the Nursing Practice Act; or
  4. a physician assistant licensed pursuant to .211127.5 the Physician Assistant Act or the Osteopathic Medicine Act;

Nurse practitioners and physician assistants are not as lengthily educated, nor as experienced in treating and palliating symptoms of serious diseases and disabilities as are physician specialists. So why allow these less qualified professionals to prescribe lethally? Many doctors refuse to participate in ending their patients’ lives where assisted suicide is legal. Broadening the lethal license to non-doctors would ensure a larger pool of ideologically suicide-friendly “health care providers” to whom advocates can refer suicidal patients.

The bill also stretches the “terminal illness” definition to the breaking point:

“Terminal illness” means a disease or condition that is incurable and irreversible and that, in accordance with reasonable medical judgment, will result in death within the foreseeable future.

Thus, a woman with, say, advanced-stage breast cancer–which could take years to reach the point of no return–would be eligible receive a lethal prescription. Ditto, those with progressive disabilities, HIV, kidney disease, etc. The obvious point of such a loose definition is to get closer to a death-on-demand assisted suicide right.

Lethal prescribers will be required to lie on the death certificate that the cause of death was the underlying condition–when in reality, it is quite possible that the condition would never have actually caused the patient’s death.

The bill could get people dead after 48 hours. There is no waiting period between request and issuance of the prescription, only a 48 hour delay in dispensing a written prescription:

WAITING PERIOD.–A prescription for medical aid in dying medication shall: A. not be filled until forty-eight hours after the .211127.5 prescription for medical aid in dying medication has been written.

This means that a patient could go to a nurse practitioner on Monday morning, be examined, have a telemedicine consult (see below), receive the prescription that day, have the poison dispensed on Wednesday, and be dead before Thursday begins.

Dissenting health care providers would have to discuss the availability of assisted suicide to every patient whose death is “foreseeable,” even if years in the future (remember the radical definition of terminal illness):

MEDICAL AID IN DYING–RIGHT TO KNOW.–A health care provider shall inform a terminally ill patient of all options related to the patient’s care that are legally available to terminally ill patients that meet the medical standards of care for end of life care.

In other words, patients who are not receiving end-of-life care because they are not yet in the dying stage of their condition would have to be informed about the immediate availability of assisted suicide.

The consulting physician (second opinion) never has to actually meet the patient! The witnesses need only affirm that the consult examined the patient by “telemedicine:”

DECLARATION OF WITNESSES: We declare that the person signing this request: affirmed that the individual is:…(2) eligible to receive medical aid in dying after the prescribing health care provider has referred the individual to a consulting health care provider and the consulting health care provider has: (a) examined the individual, in person or using telemedicine;

No medical conscience allowed. After stating that no health care provider must participate, the legislation takes it back by requiring dissenters to refer to a willing prescriber:

If a health care provider is unable or unwilling to carry out an individual’s request pursuant to the Elizabeth Whitefield End of Life Options Act, that health care provider shall so 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.

Lethal prescribers face far lower legal accountability for mistakes than treating health care providers:

A patient’s request for, or provision by a prescribing health care provider of, medical aid in dying medication in good faith compliance with this section does not constitute neglect for any purpose of law or provide the basis for the appointment of a guardian or conservator.

This means the lethal prescriber could make an egregious error–such as a misdiagnosis–and escape legal consequence if acting in “good faith,” whereas a treating doctor could be sued for malpractice under the same circumstance under the more rigorous “reasonable practitioner” standard of care that normally applies.

The assisted suicide movement is akin to a death cult. The ultimate ideological point isn’t to provide a last resort escape for the imminently dying, but to enable more people to get dead more quickly. That is why the “protective guidelines: constantly expand–sometimes, as here, even before legalization. Everything else is subterfuge.

Editor’s note. Wesley’s columns appear at National Review Online and are reposted with the author’s permission.

Categories: Assisted Suicide