A New Mexico state judge has ruled in a case brought by the ACLU that the state cannot prosecute doctors who aid their patients in ending their lives peacefully and painlessly. Judge Nan Nash ruled that a mentally competent person has a right to do that and to be helped in doing so:
“This Court cannot envision a right more fundamental, more private or more integral to the liberty, safety and happiness of a New Mexican than the right of a competent, terminally ill patient to choose aid in dying. If decisions made in the shadow of one’s imminent death regarding how they and their loved ones will face that death are not fundamental and at the core of these constitutional guarantees, then what decisions are?… The Court therefore declares that the liberty, safety and happiness interest of a competent, terminally ill patient to choose aid in dying is a fundamental right under our New Mexico Constitution.”
The ACLU of New Mexico said in a press release:
“New Mexicans, both healthy and sick, now enjoy the comfort and peace of mind that come with knowing they can prevent a prolonged, agonized dying process at the end of life,” said ACLU of New Mexico Legal Director Laura Schauer Ives. “The court agreed that the New Mexico Constitution guarantees terminally ill patients they do not have to stay trapped in a dying process they find unbearable.”
Unfortunately, this is limited to New Mexico. Four other states — Oregon, Washington, Montana, and Vermont — have similar situations. It should be that way everywhere.
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