Senator Kiffmeyer Legislative Update: September 13

Physician-assisted suicide is a dangerous policy.                                                     

This week the MN House (Democrats) held a hearing on physician-assisted suicide. The hearing comes the day after World Suicide Prevention day. An editorial in Tuesday’s Star Tribune raised other concerns about the hearing.

As a member of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and simply as a person, I find it an absolute contradiction to talk about suicide prevention and in the same week hold a hearing on assisted suicide!  

I am not alone. Many of those opposed to state-sanctioned suicide are in the mental health and disability community because when people are vulnerable, they are at the greatest risk of outside influence clouding their personal judgment. When people are facing difficult decisions or even desperation, the state should not be informing them that ending their life is a way out.

“Instead, palliative care is a life-affirming option when the diagnosis is grim. It allows patients and families to make informed decisions about the quality of care and comfort at the end-of-life stage.” Recognizing that life can be honored in our last days, with care to relieve suffering and value final conversations.

In fact, in the senate, we proposed a palliative care commission to discuss policy options that would support palliative care, but the House (Democrats) opposed the bill. 

Senate Republicans have increased funding and expanded health care access to those with mental health issues in recent years. It frightens me to consider that someone, who may be having suicidal thoughts, could be told that suicide is a “positive” choice for their life. Let’s be clear: it is not. Whether it’s done with the “assistance” of a medical professional or an individual’s tragic decision, suicide hurts them most of all and deeply hurts those left behind.  

Finally, if physician-assisted suicide becomes law, it may be too easy for some to tell those needing a high level of care that it is cheaper for them to die than to be kept alive. The cost of care is not how we determine the value of someone’s life. And that is an inhumane concept to even bring forward in a bill. 

Physician-assisted suicide is a dangerous policy to our humanity, and it will not be given a hearing in the Senate.                                                                                                                  

You can view the House Health and Service Policy Committee hearing here.                             

As always, feel free to contact me with your thoughts and concerns regarding any issue at 651-296-5655 or sen.mary.kiffmeyer@senate.mn.

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