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Christian Doctors and Dentists Sue State Over Forced Participation with Assisted Suicide


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A Christian doctor along with the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA) is suing the state of New Mexico for enacting a law that forces doctors to facilitate physician-assisted suicides in ways that violate their religious convictions and professional ethics.

The federal lawsuit was filed on their behalf by attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a nonprofit religious rights law firm. 

"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 complaint against the state explains that despite historic condemnations of assisted suicide, New Mexico enacted the Elizabeth Whitefield End-of-Life Options Act in 2021. The law still requires 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 decline to participate based on their religious beliefs or professional ethics, they can be punished by facing substantial criminal, civil, administrative, and professional liability. They also risk losing their medical licenses.

The plaintiffs in the case include the CMDA, a national association of conscientious Christian healthcare 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 directly joined the lawsuit.

ADF attorneys filed the case, Lacy v. Balderas, in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico.

Court Already Ruled Against California in Similar Case

Back in September, a federal court ruled California law violated the First Amendment rights of medical professionals by requiring them to participate in physician-assisted suicide against their religious convictions and professional ethics. 

California first legalized physician-assisted suicide in 2015 with the passage of the controversial End of Life Option Act or SB 380. It was signed into law by then-Governor Jerry Brown (D). The law allows an adult diagnosed with a terminal disease, who meets certain qualifications, to request aid-in-dying drugs from their attending physician. 

ADF attorneys representing a doctor and the CMDA asked the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California to halt enforcement, while their lawsuit proceeds, of the state law that forces physicians to participate in assisted suicide.

The court agreed. 

The Christian physicians "have demonstrated they are likely to suffer a violation of a constitutional right absent an injunction…," the court wrote in its opinion in Christian Medical & Dental Associations v. Bonta. "The ultimate outcome of this requirement is that non-participating providers are compelled to participate in the Act through {even its} documentation requirement, despite their objections to assisted suicide."

"Our clients seek to live out their faith in their medical practice, and that includes valuing every human life entrusted to their care. Participating in physician-assisted suicide very clearly would violate their consciences," said ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot in a press release at the time.  

Theriot argued before the court on behalf of his clients who challenged the California law. 

"We're pleased the court followed the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in NIFLA v. Becerra that clarified First Amendment protections extend to religious medical professionals," he said. 

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About The Author

Steve Warren is a senior multimedia producer for CBN News. Warren has worked in the news departments of television stations and cable networks across the country. In addition, he also worked as a producer-director in television production and on-air promotion. A Civil War historian, he authored the book The Second Battle of Cabin Creek: Brilliant Victory. It was the companion book to the television documentary titled Last Raid at Cabin Creek currently streaming on Amazon Prime. He holds an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and a B.A. in Communication from the University of