Dangerous assisted suicide bill introduced in Minnesota Senate

ST. PAUL — Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL) strongly opposes legislation just introduced that would legalize assisted suicide in Minnesota. The bill would authorize doctors to prescribe lethal drugs for certain patients to intentionally end their own lives.

“Assisted suicide is a danger to all of us,” says MCCL Executive Director Scott Fischbach. “This legislation has gone nowhere in past years, and state lawmakers must firmly reject it again. Contrary to the assertions of activists trying to generate public support, legalizing assisted suicide would pose real risks to Minnesotans.”

The bill, S.F. 1352, is authored by Sen. Chris Eaton (DFL-Brooklyn Center) and Sen. John Marty (DFL-Roseville). Among its dangers are the following:

Once the lethal drug has been dispensed, no safeguards exist to prevent pressure, coercion, or abuse. No one is required to witness the death.

Public and private insurers have a financial incentive to steer patients toward suicide rather than expensive life-extending treatment. Some patients in states with assisted suicide have been denied treatment and offered assisted suicide instead.

The bill does not require a psychiatric evaluation before the patient receives the drug (the decision to refer for evaluation is left with the prescribing doctor). In Oregon and Washington (the first two states to legalize assisted suicide), only a tiny fraction of patients seeking suicide are evaluated, and research shows that some patients receiving lethal drugs have suffered from depression.

The bill says only patients with a prognosis of six months or less to live are eligible, but these predictions are often unreliable. In states with similar laws, some patients qualifying for assisted suicide have gone on to live for years.

“People who are at risk of suicide deserve our protection,” says Fischbach. “Those facing an adverse prognosis or the challenges of disability deserve our protection no less than physically healthy and able-bodied people. We all count.”

Similar legislation has been proposed in recent years but has not advanced out of a legislative committee.