State should pass right to die laws

Daily Editorial Board

After an emotional hearing last week, Sen. Chris Eaton, DFL-Brooklyn Center, withdrew a proposal for Minnesota to enact a “compassionate care act” that would allow doctors to prescribe suicide medication for terminally ill patients.
 
 
Eaton said misconceptions surrounding the proposal are so numerous that a vote will have to wait until next year. 
 
 
We regret to hear of the delay. Under the proposed program, doctors would evaluate the mental health of patients seeking suicide medication. After ensuring patients’ mental wellness, doctors would confirm patients have less than six months to live before writing a prescription.  
 
 
Yet despite these measures to prevent abuse, critics of the program worry it could pressure vulnerable populations such as the elderly or the mentally ill to end their lives.
 
 
However, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and California have all passed similar “death with dignity” laws — and most of the Oregon program’s 32 patients last year were college educated, insured and afflicted with cancer. 
 
 
We believe death with dignity laws are a humane way to present terminally ill patients with an alternative to suffering. Willing, rational adults deserve the freedom to end their lives as they see fit. Moreover, suicide medication leaves the lethal act itself to patients, not doctors, which circumvents a situation in which the law obligates doctors to personally end a life.
 
 
Our state’s lawmakers should take the time to learn more about the proposal before the next legislative session, when we hope to see Minnesota become the next state to legalize doctor-assisted suicide.