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Medical-Aid-in-Dying Bill Reintroduced at MN Capitol

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Those who back laws permitting medical aid in dying say they would not lead to a "slippery slope" in patients seeking to end their life, noting those who meet qualifications represent less than 1% of the U.S. population. (Adobe Stock)
Those who back laws permitting medical aid in dying say they would not lead to a "slippery slope" in patients seeking to end their life, noting those who meet qualifications represent less than 1% of the U.S. population. (Adobe Stock)
February 23, 2021

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Minnesota lawmakers soon could revisit debate on whether to allow medically assisted dying for terminally ill patients.

Supporters point to changes in public support as they push to provide the option of a peaceful death for those who request one.

A legislative proposal introduced this week would allow an adult, given less than six months to live, the opportunity to request and self-administer life-ending medication.

Lenore Kaibel, an advocate for medical aid in dying from Minneapolis, said she wishes Minnesota law had that option when her husband, who had been suffering from ALS, died in 2019, three years after his diagnosis.

She feels the option has received an unfair characterization in public discourse.

"This is not suicide," Kaibel contended. "This is a comfortable and dignified way to finish the inevitable with some sense of, I don't know, humanity."

Supporters point to growing public support, including a recent Gallup poll noting 72% of Americans endorse the idea. That's six percentage points higher than in 1990.

Opponents cite concerns such as coercion by family members and mistakes in medical care.

But the bill's sponsors said there are several hoops for patients to jump through, including two witness signatures and a second opinion.

Sen. Chris Eaton, DFL-Brooklyn Center, a sponsor of the bill, said the patient also would have to be mentally competent, and would have the option of reconsidering since the drug is self-administered.

"Their anxiety is relieved by knowing that they have this option; that if it gets too bad, they can just stop," Eaton explained.

Eaton acknowledged it might be hard to get a hearing this session in the Republican-controlled Senate.

She added those who would make that decision have already expressed opposition, but she hopes the DFL-controlled House will at least debate that matter to keep the conversation going.

Currently, nine states and Washington D.C. allow medical aid in dying.

Mike Moen, Public News Service - MN