Reader Opinion: It’s time

It is time for Minnesota to offer a humane end of life option.

Stack of newspapers on a laptop computer.

Death with Dignity is an end-of-life option governed by state legislation that allows certain qualified people at the end stages of a terminal illness to voluntarily and legally request and receive prescription medication from their healthcare provider to hasten death in a peaceful, humane, and dignified manner.

Legislation now before the Minnesota Legislature is based on Oregon legislation which has been in place and held up to legal challenge for some 25 years.

Death with Dignity has strong support. About 75% of US adults support well-regulated medical aid in dying.

Facts: A patient must be deemed mentally competent, can stop the process at any time, and may choose to never fill the prescription or ingest the medication. The patient must be diagnosed with a terminal illness that will lead to death within six months, as confirmed by two qualified healthcare providers. Only the patient may request the medications. The request must be in writing and witnessed by two people who believe the patient is capable and is acting voluntarily. There is a waiting period. Patients indicating depression are not eligible. The patient can rescind the request at any time. Death with Dignity is not an option for patients with Alzheimer’s or similar conditions. The patient must be capable of self-administering and ingesting the medication.

A recent column in the Dispatch brought up several good points — The “slippery slope” and the oath to “do no harm.” We are wise to be wary, but with decades of history, we have seen no evidence of the slippery slope. Some physicians make the point that allowing patients to suffer is doing harm. No provider is required to participate.


It is time for Minnesota to offer this humane end of life option.

Dan Hegstad


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