Presentation made to the Interim Health and Human Services Committee
An expert panel made up of EOLONM volunteers and advisors provided an update to the Interim Legislative Health and Human Services Committee on the implementation of the Elizabeth Whitefield End-of-Life Options Act.
End of Life Options New Mexico (EOLONM) Chair, Barak Wolff, made a few opening comments followed by EOLONM volunteer Phyllis Bergman, RN/FNP. Ms. Bergman shared her personal story of her two sisters—one who struggled and ultimately could not access California’s medical aid in dying (MAID) law and the other who had a peaceful passing as one of New Mexico’s first MAID deaths. The Santa Fe New Mexican published a front page article by journalist Daniel J. Chacon about Phyllis’ story, which you can read here.
Dr. David R. Grube, National Medical Director of Compassion & Choices provided a brief overview of national developments in regard to aid in dying laws. New Mexico Representative Debbie Armstrong, one of the bill’s sponsors and EOLONM’s Senior Advisor, reviewed the intent of the Elizabeth Whitefield End-of-Life Options (EWEOLO) Act with her colleagues recalling the provisions of the Act and giving an overview of how the law is working to serve terminally ill New Mexicans throughout the state. EOLONM Legal Policy Advisor and University of New Mexico Law Professor Emeritus, Rob Schwartz, identified several legal areas where he suspects that compliance with the Act needs strengthening.
Barak concluded the presentation with an update about how the End of Life Options New Mexico non-profit organization is developing to help New Mexicans access the new law and improve New Mexicans understanding of and access to all end-of-life options. The New Mexican published a second article about the overall early implementation of medical aid in dying based on Representative Armstrong’s and Professor Schwartz’ testimony.
After the presentation, the committee had about thirty minutes of questions and comments. Legislators asked substantive questions about the implementation and provisions of the Act. Those who voted in support of the Act earlier this year were eager to share their great satisfaction that the law had finally passed and thanked Representative Armstrong for her steadfast determination in seeing it through the legislative process to final passage. Representative Armstrong humbly thanked the Committee and her colleague Senator Liz Stefanics for her long-standing commitment and Senator Bill O’Neill and other bill co-sponsors for their support.
For those who were not able to watch on the legislative website in real time, it has been recorded and is posted on the New Mexico Legislatures website.