The Latest: Cancer patient in assisted-suicide case improves

AP News
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Posted: Oct 26, 2015 1:55 PM

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The latest on the New Mexico Supreme Court hearing arguments in a right-to-die case (all times local):

11:45 a.m.

A woman who helped spark a legal challenge to New Mexico's ban on physician-assisted suicide says her cancer is in remission.

Aja Riggs told reporters Monday after the New Mexico Supreme Court heard arguments in the landmark case that she still wants the option to end her life because the cancer could return.

The 51-year-old Santa Fe woman says that's why she wants justices to rule that some terminally ill patients in New Mexico have a constitutional right to end their lives with a doctor's help. Five other states allow doctors to assist such deaths.

Scott Fuqua, a lawyer for the New Mexico Attorney General's Office, says the issue should be decided by state lawmakers, not the courts.

A ruling from the state Supreme Court is expected to take weeks.

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11:10 a.m.

American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Laura Schauer Ives says allowing competent patients to end their lives without prolonged suffering is a constitutional right in New Mexico.

Ives made the argument Monday in a landmark case before the New Mexico Supreme Court. Justices are being asked to throw out the state's assisted-suicide law.

Ives says legally ending one's life is not a practice that would harm any state interests.

But the New Mexico Attorney General's Office says the final decision on the practice should be left with state lawmakers, not the courts.

A ruling from the justices is expected to take weeks.

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9:45 a.m.

The New Mexico Supreme Court is hearing arguments in a case that could decide whether some terminally ill patients can end their lives with help from doctors.

The court began hearing from lawyers Monday. It's unclear when the court will issue a ruling.

The legal challenge began in 2012. It involves a Santa Fe woman with advanced uterine cancer who wants courts to clarify New Mexico's laws preventing her from ending her life and putting doctors in legal trouble.

Last year, Second Judicial District Judge Nan Nash ruled doctors could not be prosecuted under the state's assisted suicide law, which classifies helping with suicide as a fourth-degree felony.