By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman, Latin America Correspondent

MORELIA, September 1, 2009 ( – The Mexican state of Michoacan has approved a new “Anticipated Will” law that allows families and patients to opt out of extraordinary medical treatments in the case of terminal illness, while guaranteeing basic medical and palliative care.

The law, which received multi-party support and was endorsed by Archbishop of the state's capital, Morelia, reportedly excludes assisted suicide and both active and passive euthanasia, including the withholding of food and fluids.

The law gives terminal patients the right to substitute curative treatments for palliative care and to determine the limit of treatments they are to receive. If a terminally ill patient is unable to make such decisions, family members are permitted to do so.

Doctors who administer deadly doses of medications or otherwise undertake procedures to cause the death of the patient are punished under the law, as well as those who refuse to give palliative care.

The legislation, initiated by the socialist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) received the general support of the liberal Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and the right-wing National Action Party (PAN).  The vote reflected a growing trend for parties at the state level to work together on human life issues.  Recent votes in favor of pro-life constitutional amendments have also received support from across the political spectrum.

However, representatives of the smaller New Alliance (NA) and Green Ecologist (PVEM) parties refused to vote for the measure, expressing concern over provisions allowing relatives to withhold treatment.