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Letter: Support medical aid in dying law

What is medical aid in dying? It allows terminally ill, mentally capable adults to request and receive medication they can self-administer (or not as they choose) at their own chosen time to bring about a peaceful death should their suffering become unbearable. The individual is already in the process of dying, and this medication would simply hasten the dying process.

Medical aid in dying is legal in nine states and Washington, D.C., but not yet in Minnesota. We’ll have another chance to pass this in 2021. A poll taken at the Minnesota State Fair a couple years ago indicated that about 70% of the people supported this concept. This is consistent with a 2018 Gallop poll among American (U.S.) voters which put bi-partisan support at 72%.

Medical aid in dying is a choice made by the individual. No one else can make this decision for him or her. It is helpful to many to know such an option exists as many worry about what the dying process will bring. While many will experience a peaceful death without the medication through the help of hospice and other sources, but some can have much discomfort. In states where medical aid in dying is legal, studies have found that end of life care actually improves overall, even for those who don’t seek the aid in dying.

I believe that every person should be able to make his/her own end-of-life decisions based on his/her own values and his/her own experience with the dying process. Some worry about a “slippery slope” reaction. Oregon has had medical aid in dying for many years, and there has been no movements to further liberalize that law. In any event, any attempts to expand the law beyond the terminally ill would require acceptance and passage of new laws. It couldn’t just happen on it’s own.

In Minnesota, we again have candidates running for state Senate and House positions. If you support the concept discussed here, then tell the candidates that you would like them to vote in favor of a medical aid in dying law when it is proposed in the state Legislature. 

Elaine Smith

Albert Lea