By Chris Haring

On the second anniversary of the passing of the Elizabeth Whitefield End-of-Life Options Act, the New Mexico right-to-die movement celebrates progress

Medical aid-in-dying advocates are celebrating the second anniversary of the legalization of Death with Dignity via the passing of the Elizabeth Whitefield End-of-Life Options Act in New Mexico.

In an op-ed for the Santa Fe New Mexican, Barak Wolff, founding board member and chairman of End of Life Options New Mexico, reflects on the progress made since the Act’s June 2021 passing.

Wolff highlighted the collaborative efforts of supporters over nine years, including education and advocacy, to bring about this legislation. And in the past two years, he wrote, the organization’s volunteers have engaged in public and clinical outreach, delivered talks and presentations, and responded to personal support requests. 

Since 2021, medical aid in dying has been utilized over 330 times by qualified patients, Wolff added, emphasizing the voluntary nature of assisted death for patients, healthcare entities, and providers. He also reaffirmed the organization’s commitment to expanding outreach efforts statewide, remaining focused on empowering individuals to make their own decisions and ensuring that all New Mexicans are informed about their options and can access the end-of-life care they desire.

As End of Life Options New Mexico continues its work, Wolff said he envisions a future where the quality of life near its end is prioritized and expressed his gratitude for those helping individuals to find peace and support during this critical journey. “Now that we are actually doing this end-of-life work, it is an honor and a blessing to have made such progress,’ he said.

New Mexicans interested in learning more about aid in dying and other end-of-life care support locally can find more about End of Life Options New Mexico here.

Read the full article below:

Two years in — medical aid in dying helps New Mexicans

By Barak Wolff | June 17, 2023

In June 2021, the Elizabeth Whitefield End-of-Life Options Act went into effect, authorizing medical aid in dying in New Mexico. This followed four years of debate and rulings in the New Mexico judicial system and then three legislative sessions over five years. During those nine years, supporters worked tirelessly on education, outreach and advocacy.

On this second anniversary, it seems timely to provide a brief update about how implementation of the law is progressing, and more broadly, how more New Mexicans are learning about their right to self-determination, the importance of advance care planning and the range of end-of-life options, including medical aid in dying.

As a reminder, medical aid in dying is the practice that allows a terminally ill person with less than six months to live the opportunity to request a prescription for medications that will peacefully end their life — if and when they choose. In addition to the six-month prognosis, eligibility includes being at least 18 years of age, a New Mexico resident, having the capacity/ability to make an informed health care decision and being able to self-administer the medications.

The law contains definitions, requirements and safeguards for all parties involved. It is entirely voluntary for patients, health care entities and health care providers. Our New Mexico law is considered by many to be a model of a balanced approach that results in medical aid in dying being accessible to those who qualify at the end of life and wish to hasten their death.

Once the law passed, advocates had to decide whether to let the law implement itself or to organize an effort to help facilitate its implementation, as had been done with good success in several other states. We chose to organize and a new nonprofit organization, End of Life Options New Mexico, was launched with support from partners and private donors. Its mission is to provide education and support for all end-of-life options.

Two years later, End of Life Options New Mexico’s 60-plus volunteers are accomplishing both public and clinical outreach and education, and individual support services to clients who request it.

In 2022, End of Life Options New Mexico participated in 25 tabling events, provided 64 talks and presentations and had more than 4,200 individual contacts. In addition volunteers responded to over 200 requests for personal support and assistance through our website ( or our professionally staffed call-in line: 505-393-1321.

In regards to medical aid in dying, according to our best count it has been utilized more than 330 times by qualified patients who are suffering and wish to hasten their death. In almost all cases, they are enrolled in hospice and their prescribing clinician, hospice staff and/or one of our volunteers are at the bedside, supporting the family and loved ones.

Although the majority of these planned deaths to date have been along the Rio Grande corridor from Taos to Las Cruces, increasingly we are now focusing our outreach efforts statewide to assist people understand their options and access the end-of-life care they choose. Importantly, many more New Mexicans with serious medical conditions have peace of mind knowing that if things are being difficult, they and their families can receive assistance and support to access caring agencies and clinicians who will honor their choices.

Almost 10 years ago, The Santa Fe New Mexican published my first My View concerning our freedom to make health care decisions and choose among end-of-life options. I was just beginning to learn about these life-and-death issues and thought I would periodically share my experiences. Now that we are actually doing this end-of-life work, it is an honor and a blessing to have made such progress.

No one should have to die alone, or suffer, or be fearful at the end. At End of Life Options New Mexico we believe in “Quality of Life at the End of Life” — may it be so. The journey continues.