The state needs right-to-die laws

Daily Editorial Board

In California last week, Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a bill that will allow physicians to prescribe drugs for terminally ill patients that will enable them to commit suicide.
 
Heavily opposed by pro-life groups and the Catholic Church, Brown signed the bill in an effort to provide increased end-of-life options by citing the right to choose. 
 
The debate over this issue will move to Minnesota in the spring as Sen. Chris Eaton, DFL-Brooklyn Center, has introduced legislation similar to Oregon’s “Death with Dignity Act,” which has been lawful since 1997. Common criticisms of the measure in California revolved around the potential that people would end their lives early and that suicide is immoral.
 
We recognize the problem with the potential for ending one’s life early when the future is unclear, but for most terminally ill patients who merely want to relieve their suffering, we find this argument unconvincing. Moreover, evidence from Oregon shows that of the 1,173 prescriptions, only 752 people have used the medication to die. This indicates death is a choice, not state coercion. 
 
We urge there to be debate over the issue and for the Minnesota Legislature to take Eaton’s proposal seriously. 
 
Currently, passive euthanasia through withholding medical treatment is the only legal means for a terminally ill patient to choose to die in Minnesota. Though this issue is contentious, we feel that the current legal means of hastening death can also prolong suffering. It is by no means morally superior to allowing a patient to choose to die.