PRESS RELEASE: New bill, same flaws: this year’s assisted suicide legislation is as risky and dangerous as 2016’s failed version

Posted On: Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

SF 1572/HF1885 damages the patient-caregiver relationship, exposes the vulnerable to harm, and undermines efforts to improve the quality and accessibility of real healthcare in Minnesota.

ST. PAUL – A new bill that aims to legalize assisted suicide in Minnesota is marred by many of the same unacceptable flaws that derailed a similar effort last year.

SF 1572/HF1885 lacks sufficient safeguards, an oversight that could allow for elder abuse and harm to vulnerable persons. The legislation also undermines the ethical core of healthcare, which is to heal, and creates economic incentives that could endanger those with disabilities and drive real treatment options out of the price range of lower-income people.

“Legalizing assisted suicide would be a serious blow to people with disabilities and all who are already impacted by disparities in healthcare,” said Neil Helgeson, the president of The Arc Minnesota, a MN Alliance for Ethical Healthcare-member organization advocating for those with disabilities. “We need to be closing gaps in healthcare, not widening them.”

A similar bill was rejected last year, as it failed to garner enough support to even move out of the Senate Health and Human Services Finance and Policy committee, which at the time was controlled by a DFL-majority. Hundreds of Minnesotans came to the State Legislature to oppose that legislation, decrying its inconsistency with core Minnesota values and its departure from our state’s track record as an innovator in medical care.

“Our lawmakers should reject assisted suicide, and should instead focus on making Minnesota a state where no one feels like they need to take their own life because they can’t access quality treatment,” said Dr. Steve Bergeson, a family physician from Shoreview and an Alliance member. Bergeson is one of over 500 Minnesota medical professionals who recently signed a petition expressing their opposition to assisted suicide. “We can’t advance real care if we’re hastening death.”

One ethical alternative for those experiencing serious illness is palliative care, a care option that manages pain with high rates of patient satisfaction. The MN Alliance for Ethical Healthcare supports current legislation to create a Palliative Care Advisory Committee, which would explore ways to expand access to this treatment option in Minnesota.


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