Every year, as part of our work at the state legislature on behalf of people with disabilities, we are asked to support, or at least consider, legislation that is often contentious. This year we have again listened to presenters regarding the controversial Minnesota End-of-Life Option Act (SF1572/HF1885) authored by Senator Chris Eaton and Representative Mike Freiberg.
This legislation is modeled after Oregon’s 1997 Death with Dignity Act which has been adopted by six states (Oregon, Washington, Montana, Vermont, California, and Colorado) and the District of Columbia. The law allows terminally ill adults of sound mind to request and receive medication for a peaceful death. There are caveats that accompany the law such as the patient must be able to self-administer the medication, any health care professional can opt out of giving consent, and eligibility must be determined by at least two physicians, just to start.
There are numerous further safeguards including:
However, the disability community is not as supportive as the average, and we are actually identified as one of “the groups” that do not support this bill. Obviously it is dangerous to make assertions about the beliefs of an entire group, but understandably given our history the disability community might well be cautious about such a bill.
Wherever you stand on the issue, it is important to be informed. Compassion & Choices is the Denver based non-profit that supports education and advocacy around the country on this issue. They have a local group at work in Minnesota that can be contacted via Facebook at www.Facebook.com/CompassionandChoiceMinnesota and would be happy to come and talk to your group or provide further information. So, get educated, give it some thought, and then you decide. Ultimately, as is our democratic process, Minnesotans will make the choice to incorporate aid in dying or not.
Feel free to reach out to your legislator regarding this bill.
Sheryl Grassie / Executive Director MNCCD