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The Supreme Court of New Mexico has ruled that terminally ill New Mexicans do not have a constitutionally protected right to enlist a doctor’s help to end their lives.

Justice Edward L. Chavez wrote in his opinion, released 06.29.16, that the court recognized the “magnitude and importance of the very personal desire of a terminally ill patient to decide how to safely and peacefully exit a painful and debilitating life.” He also conceded that the state “does not have an interest in preserving a painful and debilitating life that will end imminently.”

But, he wrote, “end-of-life decisions are inherently fraught with the potential for abuse.”

If the court found patients have a right to physician aid in dying, he said, more questions would emerge about what defines an illness as terminal and how to ensure a patient makes an informed and independent decision. “Regulation in this area is essential,” he said, “given that if a patient carries out his or her end-of-life decision it cannot be reversed, even it if turns out that the patient did not make the decision of his or her own free will.”

Derek Humphry comments: This judge fails to grasp that a well-constructed law, with guidelines and waitng periods, does work, as already demonstrated in five US states with such laws.

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