Everyone deserves agency over their death

Fair use image from flickr creative commons
Fair use image from flickr creative commons
Hospital Municipal

Death cannot be adequately explained or described to those who have not been on the brink of it. One can only imagine how mentally and physically tolling the final months, weeks or days of a sick patient’s life is. How can terminally ill patients reclaim their dignity and control over their lives?

Minnesota legislation is currently addressing this question.

Last Thursday, the Minnesota House Health Finance and Policy Committee voted in favor of the “End-of-Life Options Act,” a bill that would allow terminally ill patients to die by assisted suicide. The bill was initially brought to the Minnesota legislature in 2021.

For patients with a prognosis of six months or less to live, the bill would harness individuals with the agency to make the choice best for them in an extremely physically, emotionally and spiritually tumultuous time.

The conversation around medically assisted suicide is not new. Oregon’s Death With Dignity policy has permitted assisted suicide for over 25 years. 10 states, in addition to Washington D.C., have medically assisted suicide laws: California, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, Maine, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont and Washington.

In Minnesota, the End-of-Life Options Act has many regulatory specifications in place that make abuse of the policy extremely unlikely. Patients must self-administer the life-ending drug, minimizing the possibility of abuse. Individuals who request to die by assisted suicide would be required to be informed of other end-of-life options by their healthcare provider, such as hospice or comfort care. Additionally, at least two medical professionals must verify that a patient has six months or less to live and is not under coercion.

Patients must be declared mentally stable by a minimum of two physicians and be at least 18 years old.

Many patients on the brink of death experience debilitating pain in sterile, unfamiliar health facility environments. The End-of-Life Options Act would permit mentally competent adults to administer a life-ending drug to themselves in the peace of their own homes. When dying of natural causes in a hospital or medical facility, patients do not always get to die in the presence of their loved ones or in a location that feels safe and comfortable.

The ability to die by assisted suicide would give patients who choose to do so a final sense of authority over their lives and the opportunity for empowered decision-making.

The ability to die by assisted suicide would give patients who choose to do so a final sense of authority over their lives and the opportunity for empowered decision-making. Patients could die on their own terms.

The legalization of medically assisted suicide would shorten the suffering for patients and for their loved ones watching their health deteriorate.

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