End-of-Life Legislation Receives Hearing by Minnesota House Health and Human Services Policy Committee
Terminally Ill St. Paul Woman, Co-Author of Oregon Death with Dignity Act, Join Supporters in Delivering Compelling Testimony about Urgent Need for Medical Aid in Dying
September 11, 2019
Compassion & Choices and its Minnesota supporters testified before the House Health and Human Services Policy Committee in a public hearing in support of the End-of-Life Option Act (HF 2152), legislation that would authorize medical aid in dying in the state. Medical aid in dying gives mentally capable, terminally ill individuals with a prognosis of six months or less to live the option to request, obtain and self-ingest medication to die peacefully in their sleep if their suffering becomes unbearable.
Marianne Turnbull, a St. Paul resident living with stage IV ovarian cancer, and Barbara Coombs Lee, Compassion & Choices President, co-author of the Oregon Death with Dignity Act and author of the recently published Finish Strong: Putting YOUR Priorities First at Life’s End, joined many supporters in telling powerful stories about why lawmakers should act urgently to pass medical aid-in-dying legislation to benefit terminally ill Minnesotans with six months or less to live.
The legislation is championed by Rep. Mike Freiberg and is modeled after the Oregon Death with Dignity Act. The law has been successfully implemented for more than 20 years with no record of abuse or misuse.
Marianne Turnbull testified: “I watched my mother decline for years and at the time of her death she was actively suffering for over 24 hours…I am also here because I’ve been told I don’t have much time. I was diagnosed with stage IV ovarian cancer in September 2015.”
“I’ve undergone two major surgeries and 12 rounds of chemo. At this point, there is no cure, only treatments and trials to slow the cancer spread and reduce the symptoms.”
“I want to live for as long as I possibly can. I want all the medical care that can ease my pain and allow me to be with my children and family. But, when the time comes, I also want to have a good death.”
“One out of five Americans now live in a state where medical aid in dying is available. To me, this is unfair. The option for a peaceful death should NOT be based on where I live.”
“I’m asking lawmakers to extend to me the same option that other dying Americans have. I don’t know how much time I have before I exhaust all the treatments…I want to be close to those who matter the most to me right here in Minnesota.”
Barbara Coombs Lee stated: “This legislation is modeled after the 1994 Oregon Death with Dignity Act. I co-authored that law after seeing many people die in needless agony during my first career as an ER and ICU nurse and physician assistant.”
“The debate comes down to this: Who shall be allowed to decide how much pain and suffering on the deathbed is worthy and bearable? The dying person…in consultation with their doctors, loved ones and spiritual teachers…or the government, with its heavy- handed criminal penalties?”
“Terminally ill Minnesotans who would be eligible for medical aid in dying don’t have the luxury of endless deliberations. They need this compassionate option now. Not one more person will die because you passed this compassionate bill, but far fewer will suffer.”
Public polls show more than two-thirds of Minnesota’s registered voters support medical aid in dying. Support for the bill is bipartisan and diverse, spanning every demographic group measured.
Currently, 10 jurisdictions have medical aid in dying laws: Oregon, California, Washington, Colorado, Montana, Vermont, the District of Columbia, Hawai‘i, New Jersey and Maine, whose law is set to take effect Sept. 15. Collectively, these 10 jurisdictions represent more than one out of five Americans (22%).