Friday, October 24th0.5°C
23888
22952

New Mexico judge rules doctors can give terminally ill patients drugs to end their lives

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Competent, terminally ill patients have a fundamental right under the New Mexico Constitution to seek a physician's help in getting prescription medications if they want to end their lives on their own terms, a state district judge ruled Monday.

Second Judicial District Judge Nan Nash said the constitution prohibits the state from depriving a person of life, liberty or property without due process.

"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," the judge wrote.

Nash also ruled that doctors could not be prosecuted under the state's assisted suicide law, which classifies helping with suicide as a fourth-degree felony. The plaintiffs in the case do not consider physicians aiding in dying a form of suicide.

The New Mexico Attorney General's Office said it is discussing the possibility of an appeal but needs to fully analyze the judge's opinion before commenting further.

Nash's ruling stems from a two-day bench trial in December in which two doctors and a Santa Fe woman with advanced uterine cancer asked the judge to determine that physicians would not be breaking the law if they wrote prescriptions for competent, terminally ill patients who wanted to end their lives.

Doctors Katherine Morris and Aroop Mangalik and patient Aja Riggs filed their lawsuit in 2012.

The lawsuit had the support of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico, Denver-based Compassion & Choices and the New Mexico Psychological Association, the largest organization of professional psychologists in the state. The psychologists' group argued that assisted suicide and "aid in dying" for terminally ill patients were fundamentally different.

"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," ACLU of New Mexico Legal Director Laura Schauer Ives said in a statement.

Riggs, a 49-year-old Santa Fe resident, has undergone aggressive radiation and chemotherapy treatment. She testified in December that her cancer was in remission but said there have been days when getting out of bed and walking 15 feet were an uphill battle.

Riggs said she wanted to live but also wanted the option of dying if her condition worsened.

"I don't want to suffer needlessly at the end," she told Nash during the trial.

Kathryn Tucker, director of legal affairs for Compassion & Choices, has said there's growing support for physicians to help terminally ill patients who want to end their lives.

Four other states, including Oregon, allow patients to seek aid in dying if their conditions become unbearable.

The New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops was disappointed with Monday's ruling, saying there's a difference between fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution and the ability of someone to take a person's life.

Opinions can differ with regards to the survivability of illnesses, and medical treatments can progress, said Allen Sanchez, executive director of the bishops' group.

"As long as there is a chance for human error, we can't have that. You can never reverse the decision you've made. It's the finality of it," Sanchez said. "If we are not willing to give that ability to a judge and jury by doing away with the death penalty in New Mexico, we should not be willing to give one doctor and two witnesses that ability."

The Canadian Press


Read more Business News




Recent Trending




Today's Market
S&P TSX14486.83+174.76
S&P CDNX808.600.60
DJIA16677.90216.58
Nasdaq4452.792+69.945
S&P 5001950.82+23.71
CDN Dollar0.8917+0.0013
Gold1232.20+3.10
Oil81.03-0.72
Lumber334.10+4.50
Natural Gas3.586-0.036

 
Okanagan Companies
Pacific Safety0.11-0.01
Knighthawk0.01-0.005
QHR Technologies Inc1.17+0.02
Cantex0.0550.00
Anavex Life Sciences0.1980.00
Metalex Ventures0.04-0.01
Russel Metals33.16+0.63
Copper Mountain Mining2.08-0.02
Colorado Resources0.14-0.005
ReliaBrand Inc0.013+0.001
Sunrise Resources Ltd0.05-0.01
Mission Ready Services0.41+0.005

 



23825

FEATURED Property
21142445736 Highway 97
3 bedrooms 1 baths
$135,000
more details
image2image2image2
Click here to feature your property
Please wait... loading


Weakening global growth worries

The Big Picture Growth worries persist Worries about weakening global growth and its potential impact on the US economic recovery roiled markets around the globe this week. Europe continues to be the ...


Keep it rubber side down

This time of year, I always worry about which friends of mine will get caught going off the road in adverse weather conditions. With a little preparation most accidents can be avoided. Having won the...


Big bank predicts rate hike

Photo: Thinkstock.comThe end of record-low rates is nigh, according to one major bank, which has taken a stance and predicted when the Bank of Canada will raise its long-standing overnight rate. &ldq...

_








Member of BC Press Council


22771