Civil rights leader Dolores Huerta is joining a push in New Mexico, Nevada, New Jersey and New York to legalize medically assisted suicide for terminally ill patients and garner support from Hispanics.
The advocacy group Compassion & Choices announced Thursday that the 88-year-old activist will take part in a bilingual education campaign promoting legislation to expand end-of-life care options in the four states.
The New Mexico-born Huerta is known for starting the United Farm Workers union with the late Cesar Chavez in California during the late 1960s. She’s one of the most recognizable Latina activists in the U.S. history and remains active in a number of cases from climate change to voting rights.
The campaign will involve bilingual videos to be shared on social media. In the videos, Huerta will urge Hispanic residents to support state legislation that would allow doctors to prescribe life-ending medication.
“I watched my mother, Alicia St. John Chavez, die in agony from breast cancer,” Huerta said in one of the videos. “Thankfully, New Mexico lawmakers are considering a bill that will allow terminally ill adults to end unbearable suffering under the care of doctors and surrounded by their loved ones.”
Medically assisted suicide is legal in seven states and Washington, D.C. More than a dozen states are expected to consider legislation this year to allow terminally ill people to end their lives.
Provisions of the New Mexico bill that set it apart from legislation in other states include a shorter, two-day waiting period between the time a prescription for life-ending drugs is authorized and when it is made available to a patient.
Similar bills are also being considered in New York, New Jersey and Nevada — states with large Latino populations.
However, the measures face strong opposition from Republicans and the Catholic Church.
Huerta was honored by the New Mexico Legislature on Wednesday for her decades of service for civil rights and union activism.
Associated Press Writer Russell Contreras is a member of The Associated Press’ race and ethnicity team. Follow Contreras on Twitter at http://twitter.com/russcontreras