New Mexico Supreme Court Rules Against Constitutional Right To Assisted Suicide

In a unanimous opinion issued June 30, 2016, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled in the Morris v. Brandenburg case that there is no state constitutional right to assisted suicide.

Not Dead Yet was assisted by disability rights attorney Steve Gold and New Mexico counsel Lara Katz in filing a friend-of-the-court brief in the case. Joining Not Dead Yet in the brief were ADAPT, Autistic Self Advocacy Network, the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, the National Council on Independent Living and United Spinal Association, collectively referred to as the “Disability Amici.”

According to the Albuquerque Journal in NM Supreme Court rules on aid in dying, workers comp for ag:

Perhaps emulating colleagues on the U.S. Supreme Court who issue a flurry of opinions in June, New Mexico’s highest court on Thursday filed long, detailed opinions on two of the most contentious issues before it – aid in dying and workers compensation for farm and ranch workers.

The New Mexico Supreme Court nixed a district court decision finding a right to have a physician prescribe drugs that a competent, terminally ill patient may self-administer to choose a peaceful means of death.

. . . In the aid in dying case, argued last fall, the court had the example of three other states with either statutes or court opinions allowing the practice, and California joined the list during the pendency of the case.

The Supreme Court outlined the reasoning in its 58-page opinion as follows:

Although the State does not have a 
legitimate interest in preserving a painful and debilitating life that will imminently 
come to an end, the State does have a legitimate interest in providing positive 
protections to ensure that a terminally ill patient’s end-of-life decision is informed, 
independent, and procedurally safe. More specifically, the State has legitimate interests in (1) protecting the integrity and ethics of the medical profession; (2) protecting vulnerable groups—including the poor, the elderly, and disabled persons—from the risk of subtle coercion and undue influence in end-of-life 
situations, including pressures associated with the substantial financial burden of end-of-life health care costs; and (3) protecting against voluntary or involuntary euthanasia because if physician aid in dying is a constitution alright, it must be made 
available to everyone, even when a duly appointed surrogate makes the decision, and 
even when the patient is unable to self-administer the life-ending medication.

The latter concern is rarely discussed, but is an important consideration in dealing with constitutional rights. So far, no state has found a constitutional right to assisted suicide, and New Mexico now joins Florida, Alaska, Montana, Connecticut, California and New York in declining to do so.

4 thoughts on “New Mexico Supreme Court Rules Against Constitutional Right To Assisted Suicide

  1. If there is no constitutional right to suicide how is it that some states have aid in dying laws.

    1. Depending on many variables, one can legalize something there is no specific *right* to in the constitution of the US or a state.

  2. Good for New Mexico. The fools in California will have those of us with expensive treatments exterminated whether we have had insurance our whole lives or not. I am a Stage IV patient in California and I am very much not ready to die. I believe this will become a very sad issue for California. The press has advertised this issue as being the choice of the people. This was not voted on. It was jammed through the back door like Obamacare, only this one was to save money for MediCal. SMH Shame on them.

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