Bill to allow providers to opt out of assisted dying passes Senate
The Senate Thursday passed a bill that would allow health care providers to refuse, as a matter of conscience, to provide information about assisted dying for terminally ill patients.
Senate Bill 471 would make a change to the legislation known as the End-of-Life Options Act, passed in 2021, that allows terminally ill patients to end their lives using medication.
Bill sponsor Senator Joseph Cervantes (D-Doña Ana), explained new language that would allow doctors and other providers who objected to assisted dying to refuse to provide information about medical aid in dying and to refuse to make a referral to someone who would
"This is simply an acknowledgement of conscience and the right to exercise that conscience in connection with the procedures for the end of life act that we adopted," he said.
In debate on the Senate floor, Sen. Cervantes said that the new wording and a recent lawsuit were interrelated. That lawsuit, seeking to declare parts of the law unconstitutional, was brought last year by a New Mexican doctor and the Christian Medical and Dental Associations.
Jeffrey Barrows from that organization spoke to KUNM's Daniel Montaño about the lawsuit this week.
"New Mexico is now forcing our members who are conscientious to inform their patients of the availability of assisted suicide, something they view as evil," he said.
Sen. Cervantes said he believed the change in wording would satisfy the concerns outlined in the lawsuit. The bill passed unanimously and now heads to the House, where there is also a similar bill.