Lacy v. Torrez
Description: A New Mexico law requires doctors to facilitate physician assisted suicide in ways that violate their religious convictions and professional ethics.
Victory in New Mexico: Doctors no longer forced to help end a patient's life
SANTA FE, N.M. – A few months after attorneys at Alliance Defending Freedom sued the state of New Mexico for forcing doctors to facilitate physician-assisted suicide against their religious or ethical convictions, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed into law Tuesday a bill that allows medical professionals to decline such participation for reasons of conscience or religious beliefs. As a result, ADF attorneys representing a New Mexico physician and the Christian Medical & Dental Associations filed a stipulated dismissal with the court Wednesday to dismiss their lawsuit, Lacy v. Torrez.
“We commend the New Mexico Legislature and Gov. Lujan Grisham for enacting this critical law to protect health care professionals who object to assisted suicide for reasons of conscience or faith,” said ADF Senior Counsel Mark Lippelmann. “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.”
Although assisted suicide violates medical ethics, New Mexico enacted the Elizabeth Whitefield End-of-Life Options Act to legalize the practice in 2021. The law required physicians who are 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. If physicians declined to participate based on their religious beliefs or professional ethics, they could have faced substantial criminal, civil, administrative, and professional liability, including risking losing their medical licenses.
In December 2022, ADF attorneys filed suit against the state for requiring doctors to help end a patient’s life in ways that violated their religious and conscientious beliefs. Desiring to resolve the lawsuit and protect the state’s religious and conscientious medical professionals, the New Mexico Senate passed SB 471, the Refusal of End-of-Life Options Act, on March 9, and the state House unanimously passed it March 15, before sending it to the governor for her signature.
CMDA is a national association of conscientious Christian health care professionals whose personal religious convictions and professional ethics oppose the practice of assisted suicide. Dr. Mark Lacy, a member of CMDA, is a licensed physician in New Mexico who joined the lawsuit.
“As Christian health care professionals, it is our aim to serve every patient with excellence and compassion, as image-bearers of God,” said Dr. Jeffrey Barrows, senior vice president of bioethics and public policy for CMDA. “We strive to perform our work according to the dictates of our faith and professional ethics, including the belief that every life is precious. We’re grateful New Mexico quickly responded to our lawsuit by enacting protections for conscientious physicians.”
Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, and the sanctity of life.
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Mark Lippelmann serves as senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, where he is a key member of the Center for Christian Ministries. In this role, Lippelmann is focused on protecting the freedom of Christian ministries, schools, and churches to exercise their faith without interference. In his prior role at ADF, Lippelmann was responsible for the most advanced and complex litigation in support of pro-life laws. Prior to joining ADF, Lippelmann worked as an attorney for the U.S. Postal Service in Washington, D.C., where he focused on complex class action litigation before federal courts and administrative bodies. Lippelmann also served as a federal law clerk and as an associate in private practice before joining ADF. Lippelmann earned his J.D. from Washburn University School of Law in 2009. While in law school, he served as comments editor of the Washburn Law Journal and was a research assistant for the school’s legal research and writing program. He obtained a B.A. in philosophy from The University of Kansas in 2006. He is admitted to the state bars in Kansas and Arizona and several federal courts.