New assisted suicide bill would pose dangers to Minnesotans

Legislators should work to improve care, not facilitate suicide

ST. PAUL — On Thursday lawmakers introduced a bill in the Minnesota House of Representatives to legalize assisted suicide in Minnesota. Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL) strongly opposes the legislation.

“Assisted suicide is dangerous and unnecessary,” says MCCL Executive Director Scott Fischbach. “This bill would pose real risks to Minnesotans. All patients deserve support and care and protection, not suicide.”

H.F. 2152, authored by Rep. Mike Freiberg (DFL-Golden Valley), would effectively overturn Minnesota’s current law (Minnesota Statutes 609.215) protecting against assisted suicide. The bill, modeled after laws adopted by a handful of other states, would authorize doctors to prescribe lethal drugs so that patients can intentionally end their own lives.

Among other concerns, H.F. 2152 would not require that anyone witness the death; no safeguards are present after the lethal drug has been dispensed. Nor does the bill require a psychiatric evaluation before the patient receives the drug; in Oregon and Washington (the first two states to legalize assisted suicide), only a tiny fraction of patients seeking suicide are evaluated, according to state health department reports. H.F. 2152 ostensibly requires that patients have a prognosis of six months or less to live, but in states with similar laws, some patients qualifying for assisted suicide have gone on to live for years.

“Assisted suicide harms people wherever it is legalized,” says Fischbach. “Let’s improve our health care and our support for patients who are sick, elderly, and disabled. Let’s make sure good palliative care is available to everyone who needs it. Let’s fix our elder abuse problem. And let’s continue to reject assisted suicide.”

A similar bill received a Senate committee hearing in 2016 but was pulled from consideration because it lacked the votes necessary to pass.