Minnesota Moves One Step Closer To Legalizing Assisted Suicide For The Terminally Ill

The "End of Life Options Act" passed a committee vote.
Elderly sick woman holds pills on her hand, pours capsules from bottle of drugs, takes painkillers supplements, medicines, pharmaceutical concept for the treatment of the elderly, close-up, copy paste
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Minnesota moved one step closer this week to legalizing assisted suicide for terminally ill people.

A Minnesota bill that would allow terminally ill people to ingest deadly drugs to end their lives passed the House Health Finance and Policy Committee on Thursday in a 10-5 vote, meaning it advances to the Public Safety Committee.

The bill, called the “End of Life Options Act,” or HF1930, would allow an adult 18 or older who is diagnosed with a terminal illness and given six months or less to live to self-administer drugs to kill themselves.

A person who wants these drugs must have the mental capacity to give their informed consent — people with dementia would not qualify — and they must be able to self-administer the drugs. At least two healthcare providers, including one physician, must evaluate the person and agree they meet the criteria.

Ten states and Washington, D.C. already allow some form of assisted suicide. Oregon was the first state to legalize it in 1994. In New York, an assisted suicide bill is stalled but slowly gaining momentum among lawmakers.

The Minnesota bill’s author, state Representative Mike Freiberg, a Democrat, has been pushing the bill for nearly a decade and said he is hopeful it will pass this year. Freiberg said the bill has around 25 cosponsors and that the “pro-choice majority” in both of Minnesota’s legislative chambers “certainly helps its chances,” adding that the bill is about “bodily autonomy” at a press conference before the committee vote.

The bill does not have a residency requirement, meaning Minnesota could become a destination for people seeking assisted suicide.

“We don’t put residency requirements in place for medical procedures, and that’s what this is, a medical procedure,” Freiberg said.

Several terminally ill people spoke in support of the bill at the press conference.

“If there are no more treatment options then I deserve more death options,” said Nancy Uden, who has terminal cancer and says she is “not afraid of death, but I am afraid of how I will die.”

A man with terminal cancer who described himself as a “lifelong Republican” said that 13 months ago he was given 12 months to live and he is now expected to live into 2025, but “I want to decide when I’ve had enough.”

The bill is opposed by at least 66 organizations that advocate for ethical health care, some of which testified later at the committee hearing, where hundreds of people packed into the room for nearly five hours.

At the hearing, debate among lawmakers grew heated at times, with the committee’s chairwoman, a Democrat, at one point telling Republican Representative Anne Neu Brindley to “calm down.”

A number of terminally ill people vehemently opposed the bill at the hearing.

Jean Swenson, a woman who became paralyzed from the neck down in a 1980 car crash, spoke against the bill.

“I fell into a deep depression, and I just wanted to die,” she told the committee, “but I’m so grateful that assisted suicide was not available and that those around me listened to me … and then gave me what I really needed — good medical care, counseling, access to disability services, and lots of prayer and loving support.”

“When a person is facing overwhelming problems, we need to eliminate the problems, not the person,” she said.

“Intentionally ending a human life is wrong. It doesn’t matter what name we call it,” testified Chris Massoglia of Americans United for Life. “Suicide is not healthcare. And it’s completely unnecessary due to the advances in palliative and end-of-life care.”

Some critics warned that while only terminally ill people would currently qualify, other places such as Canada have expanded their assisted suicide laws to include disabled people. Others worried that money could play a role in whether someone chooses to end their life.

“Economic disparities make it less likely that patients can afford life-saving treatment and more likely that doctors will ‘write off’ patients as terminal and thus eligible for assisted suicide,” testified Anita Cameron, director of minority outreach for Not Dead Yet, a disability rights organization.

John Kelly, a paralyzed quadriplegic and Not Dead Yet’s New England regional director argued in prepared testimony provided to The Daily Wire that assisted suicide is often about control rather than pain and that terminal diagnoses are often wrong.

Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life’s communications director Paul Stark said the bill does not provide safeguards to prevent coercion after the deadly drugs are prescribed, and no one is required to witness the death. He also noted that the bill does not require a psychiatric evaluation.

“Whenever we offer death as a solution to problems, we lose our incentive to solve the root causes of those problems, and we send the message that some lives aren’t worth living,” Stark told The Daily Wire.

The Minnesota legislature reconvenes on February 12.

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Minnesota Moves One Step Closer To Legalizing Assisted Suicide For The Terminally Ill