Compassion & Choices welcomed the introduction of the End-of-Life Option Act for 2017 (SF 1572), a bill to give Minnesotans the option to make end-of-life healthcare decisions that are right for them in the final stages of a terminal illness.
Joining bill sponsors Sen. Chris Eaton (DFL – Brooklyn Center) and Rep. Mike Freiberg (DFL – Hopkins) to announce the bill during a news conference at the State’s Capitol were Karen Warren, a Minneapolis resident living with terminal Multiple System Atrophy (MSA), Bobbi Jacobsen, a Richfield resident living with ALS, and Sally Settle, an Apple Valley resident whose mother died from leukemia before being able to access medical aid in dying.
If enacted, the End-of-Life Option Act would allow Minnesota to join seven other jurisdictions in authorizing terminally ill adults of sound mind to request and receive a prescription they may self-administer to bring about a peaceful death. Oregon, where aid in dying has been legal for two decades, has been joined by Washington, Montana, Vermont, California, Colorado and most recently, the District of Columbia.
“Minnesotans overwhelmingly support medical aid in dying. While most will never choose medical aid in dying, they want the option because it provides comfort to those facing pain and suffering at the end of life,” said Rebecca Thoman, M.D. Campaign Manager for Doctors for Dignity. “By introducing the End-of-Life Option Act, the bill authors have shown a commitment to improving end of life care for all Minnesotans.”
“My mother died in pain, in the hospital, just as she knew she would, but didn’t want to,” said Sally Settle. “She was desperate to avoid the misery that she faced. If we had lived in Oregon, she could have used its Death with Dignity law and enjoyed her final days knowing she could decide when enough was enough. But here in Minnesota, she had no safe, legal option for a peaceful way to end the suffering. I promised my mother before she died that I would work to change the law in Minnesota. This is not a Democrat versus Republican issue for Minnesotans. Lawmakers need to come together out of respect for terminally ill Minnesotans and their families.”
Bobbi Jacobsen stated: “As a person living with a disability, I’ve gained great respect for the pioneers who fought for the Americans with Disabilities Act. But unlike others living with a disability, mine is fatal. Eventually, I will lose my ability to live without being attached to a machine that will breathe for me, but my thinking will be sharp and my senses intact. Not allowing people like me a peaceful alternative is wrong. The movement to authorize aid in dying is based on the same principles that inform the disability rights movement: respect, dignity and autonomy. Only I can determine the quality of my life. Only I can define what dignity means to me.”
A survey among likely voters conducted in September 2016 showed broad and deep support for medical aid in dying. Seventy-three percent of Minnesotans believe medical aid in dying should be a legal option for terminally ill individuals who are over the age of 18, have less than six months to live and are deemed mentally capable by medical experts. A 2016 Minnesota State Fair Survey showed similar findings, with 68% in support.