End-of-Life Options Act Gains Momentum With Passing Vote From House Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee

Bill Advances After Historic First Committee Vote on Aid-in-Dying Bill in January
March 8, 2024

Terminally ill Minnesotans are one step closer to the end-of-life care option of medical aid in dying after the House Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee voted to pass the End-of-Life Options Act Thursday. The proposed legislation now moves to the House Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Committee for their consideration, likely next week.

The vote came after a compelling discussion on sections 13 and 14 of the bill (HF1930),

during which the committee heard expert testimony from retired psychologist Eric Bergh, who spent 40 years of clinical work at psychiatric hospitals, mental health clinics, and private practice and served on the Board of Directors of Suicide Awareness Voices of Education.

“Although some have expressed concern, there is absolutely no sound research that indicates

that medical aid in dying has any impact on suicide rates or causes suicide contagion,’” testified Bergh. “With decades of data and experience from authorizing states, we don’t need to speculate. The End-of-Life Options Act has the same time-tested guardrails as the other 10 states that have resulted in the laws being used thoughtfully, compassionately, and safely.”

Eric Bergh testifies before the House Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee

Eric Bergh testifies before the House Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee Thursday morning.

Momentum for the End-of-Life Options Act’s passage is undeniable; the House Health Finance and Policy Committee voted in favor of HF1930 in January, which is the first time the legislation had been voted on by Minnesota lawmakers following nearly a decade of work by advocates.

“Minnesotans overwhelmingly support medical aid in dying as an option for terminally ill adults. So far, lawmakers are listening,” said Rebecca Thoman, M.D., Minnesota Campaign Manager for Compassion & Choices Action Network (CCAN).

The bill is modeled after Oregon’s medical aid-in-dying law, enacted 26 years ago. To qualify, a patient must be at least 18 years old, mentally capable, and diagnosed with a terminal illness with a prognosis of six months or less to live. Individuals are not eligible for medical aid in dying solely because of age and/or disability.

Eligible patients must make one oral request and one written request to the attending health care provider and one oral request to another consulting health care provider. Individuals must be able to self-ingest the medication.

No one – no patient, doctor, nurse, pharmacist, or health care facility – would be required to participate.

Strong support among Minnesotans

Results from the most recent annual Minnesota House of Representatives poll at the State Fair found that nearly three-quarters of respondents support allowing Minnesotans the end-of-life care option of medical aid in dying to peacefully end unbearable suffering.

The State Fair poll included this question: Should terminally ill adults have the option to end their lives with the assistance of health care providers?

  • Yes — 73.2% (5,844)
  • No — 18.2% (1,456)
  • Undecided/No Opinion — 8.6% (686)

Those results are an increase in support from the last time a similar question was posed to Fairgoers in 2016. That year, 67% supported the measure. A scientifically conducted survey by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research in 2016 found 73% of Minnesotans support the measure.

Medical aid in dying is an end-of-life care option in 10 states (CaliforniaColoradoHawaiiMaineMontanaNew JerseyNew MexicoOregonVermontWashington), and Washington, D.C.

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