In 2012, the ACLU of New Mexico filed Morris v. New Mexico based on a simple premise: dying people shouldn't be forced to suffer at the end of life. Two Albuquerque Oncologists, Dr. Katherine Morris and Dr. Aroop Mangalik, joined together with Aja Riggs, a cancer patient from Santa Fe, to ask the courts to clarify that New Mexico's law against "assisting suicide" does not apply to physician aid in dying, the medical practice in which a mentally competant, terminally ill patient can request  a life-ending medication from their doctor in order to have a peaceful and dignified death. Whether or not the patient ultimately chooses to use the medication, the knowledge that they have options if their dying process becomes unbearable provides a great deal of peace of mind for many people facing the end stages of a terminal illness.

A district court judge concurred with the ACLU's position that aid in dying is a "fundamental right" under the New Mexico State Constitution, however the ruling was overturned in a split decision in the New Mexico Court of Appeals. The New Mexico Supreme Court sustained the Court of Appeals decision, bringing the case to a close.

Having exhuasted legal options in the state courts, the ACLU of New Mexico, along with allied organizations, concerned individuals, and state lawmakers are currently working to establish physician aid in dying through an act of the state legislature.


Laura Schauer Ives, Alexandra Freedman Smith, Maureen Sanders, Katherine L. Tucker

Pro Bono Law Firm(s)

Kennedy, Kennedy & Ives