The New Mexico Elizabeth Whitefield End-of-Life Options Act authorizes medical aid in dying. Medical aid in dying is a safe and trusted medical practice in which a terminally ill, mentally capable adult with a prognosis of six months or less to live may request from his or her healthcare provider a prescription for medication which they can choose to self-ingest to bring about a peaceful death. The law went into effect June 18, 2021.
How do I Access a Prescription?
To be eligible for medical aid in dying under New Mexico’s law, a person must be:
- An adult
- Terminally ill
- Given a prognosis of six months or less to live
- Mentally capable of making their own healthcare decisions
A person must also be:
- A resident of New Mexico
- Acting voluntarily
- Making an informed decision that includes being given information about all other end-of-life options
- Informed that they may choose to obtain the aid-in-dying prescription but not take it
- Capable of self-administering and ingesting the aid-in-dying drug
In addition to the requirements listed above, certain steps must be followed in order for a person to qualify for aid-in-dying medication.
- In most cases, two licensed healthcare providers, one of which must be a physician (MD or DO), must confirm the terminal illness. Individuals are not eligible for medical aid in dying solely because of age or disability.
- Individuals enrolled in hospice are considered terminal based on the standard of care and do not require a second confirmation if the prescribing provider is a physician. If the prescribing provider for an individual enrolled in hospice is an advanced registered nurse practitioner or a physician assistant, they must obtain written confirmation from the hospice physician or another consulting physician of 1) the patient’s mental capability to make end-of-life care decisions and 2) their ability to self-ingest aid-in-dying medication before a prescription can be written.
- If the prescribing provider for an individual not enrolled in hospice is an advanced registered nurse practitioner or physician assistant, they must obtain written confirmation from a consulting physician of 1) the patient’s terminal prognosis, 2) their mental capability to make end-of-life care decisions and 3) their ability to self-ingest medical aid-in-dying medication before a prescription can be written.
It is important for individuals to talk to their healthcare providers early to see whether they are willing to write a prescription. We encourage everyone to begin this conversation now.
Where can I Learn More?
For New Mexico Residents
For more information on the full range of end-of-life options visit the Compassion & Choices End of-Life-Information Center.
For Medical Providers
The New Mexico Access Campaign seeks to provide technical assistance to healthcare providers so they can more fully support their patients.
Resources are currently being produced and will be added here as they become available. Check back often.
About Compassion & Choices
Compassion & Choices is the nation’s oldest, largest and most active nonprofit organization committed to improving care and expanding choice for the end of life.
For more information on the full range of end-of-life options visit the Compassion & Choices end-of-life planning page.