March 2021

Celebration…

Well, our hard-fought legislative journey has ended with success. Medical aid in dying has passed the NM Legislature and now awaits a supportive Governor’s signature. We’ve heard from advocates, elected leaders, physicians, patients, family members, etc. and want to share some of their gratitude and thoughts with you. Read what people are saying about MAID in NM…

I’m grateful to … (to those) who encouraged me to participate.  It’s nice to round out a productive life on such a good note.
– Glenn B. (terminally ill patient, New Mexico)

I am proud to be a part of this great effort. Although the work has just began we finally will have a choice !! Thank all of you!!  Gratefully,
–Judi L. (NM)

You totally rock.  The campaign you ran was spectacular.  I’m so, so grateful…& impressed.
–Jarratt A. (NM)

Thank you so much! That means the world🥺 it feels awesome getting to be a part of something so big and meaningful. It’s also made me want to look into some kind of career involving (this kind of) work.
– Maya D. (NM)

Thanks for making our end of life so much easier to face. Congratulations.
Ruth, Dorothy, and Steve T. (NM)

Bravo!! When I think of the years of defeat, I commend your steadfastness and that of minor and major campaigners on this project!
–Susann M (NM)

Such wonderful news!  Thank you for your work and persistence over the years.  We (YOU) did it.
–Jane G. (NM)

WOW!!!  Thanks to you!! and all of your hard work, doing everything you have done including keeping us informed…We have an easier path as we age and die, with more options for us tonight. A million thanks and oodles of gratitude to your team,
–John and Marissa B. (NM)

CONGRATULATIONS!!!  A perfect ending to years of hard work!!
– Karen S. (NM)

This has revolutionized end-of-life care for the more than 2 million people who call New Mexico home. It will, for the very first time allow terminally ill, mentally competent adults in New Mexico the autonomy to make their own end-of-life decision to access medical aid-in-dying should they need it. We are grateful to our partners in the New Mexico End of Life Options Coalition for their tireless work in this effort.
– Robert D. (Compassion & Choices)

Congratulations. Delighted to see the most accessible MAID law in the USA.
– Thad P. (Minnesota)

Wow. just wow. This is SUCH great news that I am overjoyed to share. Glad my FIL will now have this option. Thank you for your efforts! Peace.
– Diana B. (Vermont)

 OMG!!! That is so fantastic! We are over the moon with you!…You really did it!  Way to Go! CONGRATULATIONS TO YOU!!!
– Lynne C. (California)

I have been watching all the successful steps of the New Mexico team getting the proposed law through all the hoops to get passed. Very excited, and amazing, excellent work!!
Judy E. (California)

 

The corrections in your law from our Colorado law are the difference between some of our beautiful patients taking the actions they so planned on and desire and spending those 2 weeks in unacceptable state.  Indeed, almost worth moving to New Mexico over!  So very happy for you!
– Kaye C. (Colorado)

 

Congratulations!  Congratulations! Congratulations!  Wonderful work …. the very best news of my day.
– Dr. Carol P (Washington State)

 

Congratulations from Victoria, Australia!  Thank you for letting this foreigner tag along on your conversations; it’s quite validating to see the same issues that frustrate me are topical in other jurisdictions!
– Dr. Cameron M. (Melbourne, Australia)

 

 

Medical Aid in Dying in NM: From Advocacy to Implementation

By Barak Wolff, NM EOLO Coalition Steering Committee

Barak Wolff

We are all joyful and filled with gratitude for the hard work, resilience, expertise, and dedication of so many New Mexicans who actively helped secure the passage of HB 47, the Elizabeth Whitefield End-of-Life Options Act. The law goes into effect on June 18, 2021.

There are so many to thank…our army of grassroots advocates, our national partners, our terrific co-sponsors Debbie and Liz, our expert witnesses and testifiers…all focused on our message of caring and compassion for those suffering at the end of life. An important win for New Mexico and New Mexicans.  For all of that we are thankful.

At the same time, we know that medical aid in dying does not implement itself. There will be outreach and training both to the public and for health care clinicians. Hospitals, hospices and long-term care agencies will be informed and educated so that they can develop clear policies and procedures for their workers, their patients and the public. Regulations and forms will be developed and adopted so that the implementation of medical aid in dying can be described and followed from year to year. A clearinghouse of information, resources and referrals will be developed and managed over time.  And, perhaps down the road, there will be the capacity to provide direct assistance to health care providers, to individuals and to families who are ready to make end-of-life decisions, choose between options, and perhaps receive bedside support to ease the journey.

That’s our vision for the future and we know that we are not alone. There are some excellent state-based organizations that have been providing these services for years in California, Oregon, Washington and others where medical aid in dying has been authorized. And as we did with drafting the legislation, we expect to learn from them all when implementing the law.

And we will also learn from our fabulous national partners…Compassion and Choices which has supported NM continuously and generously since 2012 and the Death With Dignity National Center which has joined us more recently to help us build our website and support our enhanced communications. Both organizations work with all the states that have medical aid in dying to better understand the challenges, what works well, and what it takes to sustain services over time.

So, we have work to do. Over the last five years our NM End-of-Life Options Coalition Steering Committee has provided leadership, developed partnerships, and has successfully advocated to authorize medical aid in dying here in NM. Now is the time that we will transition from a legislative campaign to becoming a service provider.

Rest assured, our Coalition Steering Committee members have already started the work and on April 8th we will come together, celebrate our success, roll up our sleeves and begin the strategic planning for our next phase of service to help ensure that all New Mexicans have the kind of death they seek…whatever that might be.

 

Our Legislative Journey Timeline

It has taken more than a quarter of a century to pass medical aid in dying legislation in New Mexico. From 1995 when Senator Liz Stefanics introduced the state’s first medical aid in dying bill in its history, to the passage of HB 47 last week, it’s been a long time coming.

  • 1995 – SB 446, Aid in dying bill; Sponsor Sen. Liz Stefanics; Bill died in committee
  • 2009 – HB 814, Death With Dignity Act; Sponsored by Rep. Karen E. Giannini; Bill died in committee
  • 2017 – SB 252/HB 171,  NM Mexico End of Life Option Act; Sponsors: Sen. Liz Stefanics, Rep. Debbie Armstrong, Rep. Bill McCamley; Bill died by a vote of 20-22 on the Senate floor
  • 2019 – SB 153/HB 90, The Elizabeth Whitefield End-of-Life Options Act; Sponsors: Rep. Debbie Armstrong,  Sen. Liz Stefanics; Bill died in committee
  • 2021 – HB 47/SB 308, The Elizabeth Whitefield End-of-Life Options Act; Sponsors: Rep. Debbie Armstrong, Sen. Liz Stefanics, Rep. Day Hochman-Vigil; Rep. Patrica Roybal Caballero, Sen. Bill O’Neill, Sen. Carrie Hamblen
    • Passed the House Health and Human Services Committee on Jan. 29, 2021 by a vote of  7-4.
    • Passed the House Judiciary Committee on Feb. 13, 2021  by a vote of 7-3
    • Passed the NM House of Representatives floor on Feb. 19 2021 by a vote of 39- 27
    • Passed the Senate Health & Public Affairs Committee on March 1, 2021 by a vote of 5-3
    • Passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 14, 2021 by a vote of 5-3
    • Passed on the NM Senate floor on March 15, 2021 by a vote of 24-17
    • Concurred by the NM House of Representatives on March 16, 2021 by a vote of 46 – 20.

 

We Will Never Forget

As we celebrate the passage of HB 47 The Elizabeth Whitefield End-of-Life Options Act and prepare for it’s implementation, we will never forget those special advocates who shared their very personal stories and who we have lost in recent years to their illness. Without their advocacy and willingness to share, this bill would not have been fought for so passionately and ultimately passed.

We are reminded of their gifts to the movement to expand end-of-life options by the words of Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman who said:

For it is our grief that gives us our gratitude,
Shows us how to find hope, if we ever lose it.
So ensure that this ache wasn’t endured in vain: Do not ignore the
pain. Give it purpose. Use it.

 

Glenn Buckland
Elizabeth Whitefield
Elizabeth Whitefield
Bill Johnson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can read more about these advocate’s stories in our 2021 NM Storybook.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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