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Doctors speak against ‘assisted suicide’ bill

SANTA FE — A group of doctors and other health care professionals gathered inside the Capitol on Tuesday to speak out against legislation that would allow terminally ill patients in New Mexico to seek a doctor’s help to end their lives.

They said “assisted suicide” could lead to elderly or incapacitated patients feeling pressure to end their lives for financial reasons. Caretakers might take advantage of them as they seek an inheritance, opponents said.

“It’s the perfect crime,” Rep. Gregg Schmedes, R-Tijeras, said, “and it’s an unnecessary bill that will incentivize people to die early.”

Schmedes, a surgeon, was one of several speakers at a rally inside the Roundhouse on Tuesday.

New Mexico lawmakers are considering legislation that would create an “End of Life Options Act,” named after the late Judge Elizabeth Whitefield, who had urged its passage two years ago. She died last year.

The proposals, House Bill 90 and Senate Bill 153, are co-sponsored by Rep. Deborah Armstrong of Albuquerque and Sen. Liz Stefanics of Cerrillos, both Democrats.

The legislation would require authorization from two medical providers and a 48-hour waiting period before someone could take drugs to end their life.

Opponents of the bill said the safeguards aren’t adequate and that it undermines the “Hippocratic Oath” to “do no harm.”

Supporters say the proposal would help alleviate suffering and allow terminally ill patients to make their own choice.

A 1963 state law makes it a fourth-degree felony to assist in a suicide.

 

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