New Mexico Appeals Court Overturns Judge’s Attempt to Legalize Assisted Suicide

State   |   Alex Schadenberg   |   Aug 12, 2015   |   2:36PM   |   Santa Fe, NM

The Washington Times reported yesterday that the New Mexico Court of Appeal overturned Nash’s activist assisted suicide decision.

The New Mexico Court of Appeals handed a defeat to the right-to-die movement Tuesday by striking down a lower-court ruling establishing physician-assisted suicide.

The three-judge panel ruled 2-1 that the district court had erred when it determined that “aid in dying is a fundamental liberty interest.”

On January 13, 2014; Judge Nan Nash, of the Second Judicial District in New Mexico made an activist decision in the case Morris v New Mexico. Nash legislated from the bench giving New Mexico doctors the right to prescribe lethal drugs to assist the suicide of their patients.

The case concerned Aja Riggs, who had uterine cancer, who said that she wanted to die by assisted suicide, and two doctors who were willing to prescribe lethal drugs.

The argument in the case was based on a word game.

The case argued that “aid in dying”, which is also known as assisted suicide, is not prohibited by the New Mexico assisted suicide law because “aid in dying” is not assisted suicide.

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The case argued, that if “aid in dying” is assisted suicide, then the New Mexico assisted suicide law is unconstitutional because it undermines the right to privacy and autonomy.

But, Aid in dying is assisted suicide and assisted suicide does not constitute medical treatment. Therefore prohibiting assisted suicide does not undermine the right to privacy or autonomy.

A similar case was dismissed by the Connecticut court in 2010.

Riggs told the Albuqueque journal last December that she was now in remission. She is fortunate that the court did not give her an exemption to die by assisted suicide. Note: Alex Schadenberg is the executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition and you can read his blog here.