No ‘right to die’ at hands of doctors in New Mexico

ADF brief explains doctor-prescribed death is not a constitutional right
Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Attorney sound bites:  Catherine Glenn Foster  |  Steven H. Aden

SANTA FE, N.M. – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing several New Mexico legislators and a medical association have filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the New Mexico Court of Appeals in favor of reversing a state judge’s decision to allow doctor-prescribed death.

In January, Judge Nan G. Nash of the New Mexico Second Judicial District ruled that there is no “right more fundamental, more private or more integral to the liberty, safety and happiness of a New Mexican than the right of a competent, terminally ill patient to choose aid in dying.”

“Suffering patients need understanding and sound medical treatment, not encouragement to kill themselves – and especially not through doctors who pledge to ‘do no harm,’” said ADF Litigation Counsel Catherine Glenn Foster. “New Mexico law clearly criminalizes deliberate assistance in someone else’s suicide. The lower court was wrong to invent a right to doctor-prescribed death that does not exist – placing New Mexicans at risk of coercion and an early grave.”

As the ADF brief filed in Morris v. King explains, “The overwhelming majority of States – and the U.S. Supreme Court – reject a fundamental right to die or to physician-assisted suicide. New Mexico, too, has banned physician-assisted suicide to assert its compelling interests in preserving life, protecting the vulnerable, and upholding the integrity of the medical profession.”

“With the growth of and trailblazing improvements in palliative care, there is no excuse to destroy life simply because it grows imperfect, old, or frail,” the brief continues. “By prohibiting assisted suicide, more attention and focus can be directed toward palliative care and research improving the latter days of a person’s life, rather than making a so-called problem go away.”

ADF attorneys filed the brief on behalf of five state senators, six members of the state house, and the Christian Medical and Dental Associations.

“Doctors have a fundamental duty to try to heal patients and not prematurely deny families the opportunity to honor and cherish their loved ones in their final days,” added ADF Senior Counsel Steven H. Aden. “We hope the court will affirm this respect for life as the people of New Mexico have always done.”

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.

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