New Mexico Changes Physician-Assisted Suicide Law After Lawsuit by Alliance Defending Freedom
In a victory for religious freedom, a few months after Alliance Defending Freedom sued the state of New Mexico for compelling doctors to participate in physician-assisted suicide despite their religious or ethical objections, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a bill allowing medical practitioners to refuse such involvement on the grounds of conscience or religion.
In 2021, New Mexico legalized assisted suicide through the Elizabeth Whitefield End-of-Life Options Act. The law required physicians who objected to assisted suicide on religious or ethical grounds to facilitate it by informing patients about the option and referring them to other physicians or organizations willing to carry out the procedure. Any doctor who refused to participate based on their moral or professional convictions faced severe legal and professional repercussions, including criminal charges, civil lawsuits, and even the loss of their medical license.
In 2022, attorneys from Alliance Defending Freedom representing a physician and the Christian Medical & Dental Associations, whose personal religious convictions and professional ethics oppose the practice of assisted suicide, filed a lawsuit against the state of New Mexico challenging the Act.
The lawsuit, Lacy v Torrez, explained that Dr. Mark Lacy and members of CMDA firmly uphold the belief that every life is sacred and has inherent value given by the Creator. It further asserted the plaintiffs’ convictions that physician-assisted suicide is unjustifiable as it involves ending an innocent human life and that any action that facilitates it amounts to a material collaboration in unethical and sinful acts that contravene their religious freedom.
ADF attorneys argued that the Act gave their clients an “impossible choice,” forcing them to choose between violating their religious, moral, and ethical convictions by facilitating physician-assisted suicide or facing severe consequences, including the risk of losing their medical licenses and careers.
In March 2023, the New Mexico Senate passed SB 471, the Refusal of End-of-Life Options Act, which allows medical professionals to decline participation in assisted suicide based on their religious or ethical convictions. The state House also unanimously passed the bill before sending it to the governor for her signature.
ADF Senior Counsel Mark Lippelmann commended the New Mexico Legislature and Gov. Lujan Grisham for enacting the critical law protecting healthcare professionals who object to assisted suicide for reasons of conscience or faith. “Dr. Lacy and the thousands of other Christian medical professionals we represent believe every life is sacred and full of inherent value, and that assisted suicide ends an innocent human life without justification. The government should never force doctors to surrender their religious, moral, and ethical convictions,” Lippelmann said.
ADF attorneys have now filed a stipulated dismissal of their lawsuit Lacy v. Torrez with the court.
Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, marriage and family, and the sanctity of life.
ADF Ministry Alliance and ADF Church Alliance are branches of Alliance Defending Freedom, providing resources, legal assistance, and training to help Christian ministries and churches navigate legal and cultural challenges related to the spread of the Gospel. They operate under the maxim, “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together” (1 Corinthians 12:26).
Current information on this case and access to media resources on ADF legal matters are available at https://adfmedia.org/