Dangerous measure would overturn law prohibiting assisted suicide
ST. PAUL — The lives of elderly and severely ill persons and people with disabilities would be threatened under a proposal to legalize assisted suicide introduced in the Minnesota House of Representatives on Wednesday. Because of the broad dangers of assisted suicide, the bill is strongly opposed by Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL), the state’s oldest and largest pro-life organization.
H.F. 1885, authored by Rep. Mike Freiberg, DFL-Golden Valley, would overturn the state’s longstanding prohibition against assisted suicide. A similar bill, S.F. 1572, was introduced in the Minnesota Senate on Monday.
“Our law against assisted suicide has protected vulnerable people for many years,” said MCCL Legislative Director Andrea Rau. “Minnesotans recognize that persons seeking help to kill themselves need immediate care, including medical and mental health care—not assisted suicide.”
By legalizing assisted suicide, this bill would open the door to new kinds of pressure and coercion. In Oregon, which pioneered legal assisted suicide, 40 percent of assisted suicide victims have expressed concern about being a “burden” on family and friends, according to the Oregon Public Health Division. H.F. 1885 does not require the prescribing physician to even be present when the lethal dose is administered, and no witnesses to the death are required. No one would know if the person died against his or her will.
If assisted suicide is legalized, it becomes the least expensive “treatment.” Public and private insurers may have a financial incentive to steer patients toward assisted suicide rather than life-enhancing treatment. This has already happened to some patients in Oregon, where some patients have been denied life-extending treatment by health care providers, and instead offered coverage of life-ending medication.
The House bill relies on a terminal diagnosis, but such diagnoses are sometimes wrong. Legalizing assisted suicide encourages patients who would live for weeks, months, years or even decades to throw their lives away.
“The broad dangers of legalizing assisted suicide must not be ignored,” Rau added. “The bill introduced today poses serious risks for Minnesotans. MCCL urges legislators to oppose this measure.”