The following news release was issued on March 18, 2015.
ST. PAUL — The lives of elderly, severely ill and disabled persons would be threatened under a proposal to legalize assisted suicide introduced in the Minnesota Senate today. Because of the broad dangers of assisted suicide, the bill is strongly opposed by Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL), the state's oldest and largest pro-life organization.
S.F. 1880 would overturn the state's longstanding prohibition against assisted suicide.
"Our law against assisted suicide has protected vulnerable people for many years," said MCCL Legislative Associate Andrea Rau. "Minnesotans recognize that persons seeking help to kill themselves need immediate care, including medical and mental health care—not assisted suicide."
By legalizing assisted suicide, this bill would open the door to new kinds of pressure and coercion. In Oregon, which pioneered physician-assisted suicide, 40 percent of assisted suicide victims have expressed concern about being a "burden" on family and friends, according to the Oregon Public Health Division. S.F. 1880 does not require the prescribing physician to even be present when the lethal dose is administered, and no witnesses to the death are required.
If assisted suicide is legalized, public and private insurers may have a financial incentive to steer patients toward suicide rather than life-extending treatment. This has already happened to some patients in Oregon.
The Senate bill relies on a terminal diagnosis, but such diagnoses are sometimes wrong. Legalizing assisted suicide encourages patients who would live for weeks, months, years or even decades to throw their lives away.
"The broad dangers of legalizing assisted suicide must not be ignored," Rau added. "The bill introduced today poses serious risks for Minnesotans. MCCL urges legislators to oppose this measure."