On behalf of its white-coated plaintiffs, Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed suit Wednesday in the U.S. District Court of New Mexico. The case is Lacy v. Balderas.
New Mexico allows assisted suicide in its borders after Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the End-of-Life Options Act into law in 2021.
Physician-assisted suicide is also known as medical aid in dying, or MAID.
In the state legislature, the bill was promoted and defended by the group Compassion and Choices, which urged New Mexico to become the 10th state to allow MAID for terminally ill people.
“This law is a momentous achievement,” Kim Callinan, the CEO of Compassion and Choices, said in a statement last year, “for terminally ill New Mexicans who have fought until their last breaths to expand and improve end-of-life care options in New Mexico.”
Way down in that self-congratulatory press release, however, is the reason for the ADF lawsuit. The new state law:
Clarifies that if a health care provider objects to participating medical aid in dying that they must inform the individual and refer the individual to either a health care provider who is able and willing to carry out the individual's request or to another individual or entity to assist the requesting individual in seeking medical aid in dying.
In plain English, the state law requires an objecting physician to indirectly help patients kill themselves by finding them a more willing doctor.
According to ADF attorney Christy Hirsch, that uncompromising requirement, and the threat of revoking the medical license of anyone who refuses, proved too much for some physicians who asked ADF to help them fight it.
“The government cannot force healthcare professionals,” she says, “to violate their medical ethics, or their religious convictions, in order to practice medicine."
The new law’s promise to punish non-complaint doctors is not mentioned in the Compassion and Choices press release.