Christian Doctors Sue New Mexico for Law Forcing Participation in Assisted Suicide

Doctor's back (PhotoAlto/Michele Constantini/Getty Images)
PhotoAlto/Michele Constantini/Getty Images

Christian doctors filed a lawsuit against the state of New Mexico for enacting a law that requires doctors to facilitate physician-assisted suicide in ways that violate their religious convictions and professional ethics. 

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) filed the lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico last Wednesday on behalf of Dr. Mark Lacy and the Christian Medical and Dental Associations (CMDA). The complaint details how, despite historic condemnations of assisted suicide, the state enacted the Elizabeth Whitefield End-of-Life Options Act in 2021, a law which requires “conscientious objectors to facilitate suicide by informing patients about assisted suicide and referring patients to physicians and organizations who will participate in ending their lives,” according to the ADF.

Physicians who decline to participate based on their religious beliefs or personal ethics could reportedly face “substantial criminal, civil, administrative, and professional liability, including risking losing their medical licenses.”

“New Mexico is unlawfully compelling physicians to speak a certain message about assisted suicide, even if they object for reasons of conscience or faith,” said ADF Senior Counsel Mark Lippelmann. “The Christian doctors we represent believe that every life is sacred and full of inherent value, and that assisted suicide ends an innocent human life without justification. The government should not force doctors to surrender their religious, moral, and ethical convictions.”

The ADF is asking the court to enjoin the Act’s Referral and Informing Requirements and to declare them unconstitutional on the grounds that the requirements violate several clauses in the First and Fourteenth Amendments. 

The complaint reads: 

Specifically, that provision states: If a health care provider is unable or unwilling to carry out an individual’s request pursuant to the End-of-Life Options Act, that health care provider shall so inform the individual and refer the individual to 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 other words, the Informing Requirement compels a health care provider to tell a patient about the option of assisted suicide, regardless of the provider’s ethical, medical, moral, conscientious, or religious objections to the practice. 

“The Act thus puts CMDA members and Dr. Lacy to an impossible choice: (a) surrender their religious, moral, and ethical convictions and facilitate assisted suicide by informing patients about the option and referring patients to participating providers, or (b) refuse to inform patients about assisted suicide and refuse to refer patients to participating providers and violate the Act, subjecting themselves to substantial liability and the possibility of losing their medical licenses and careers,” the complaint alleges. 

The Act also “expressly prohibits professional associations like CMDA from suspending, denying, or revoking membership to physicians who participate in assisted suicide, violating CMDA’s right to associate with members who will present a consistent message,” the lawsuit continues. 

The ADF is litigating a similar case in California on behalf of CMDA and a physician in that state. The lawsuits come as public health systems in North America, particularly in Canada, continue their attempt to mainstream physician-assisted suicide for the terminally ill, as well as those struggling with mental illness. 

The case is Lacy v. Balderas, No. 1:22-cv-953 in the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico.


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