Letter: Supporting the Minnesota End of Life Options Act

To the Editor:
Rep. Mike Freiberg, of Golden Valley, and Sen. Chris Eaton, of Brooklyn Center, recently introduced the Minnesota End of Life Options Act in our state legislature. As a physician and a human being who will one day die, I fully support this bill which establishes standards and safeguards for medical aid in dying.
My husband and I spend the winter in Colorado, where voters last fall approved a medical aid in dying ballot initiative by a wide margin. Two recent polls show that the majority of Minnesotans also want this option.
In states where this has been legal for many years, studies show improvements in end of life care overall, starting with better discussions between patients and their physicians. These conversations lead to increased use of palliative and hospice care and fewer pointless medical interventions in the last weeks of life.
I don’t fear death but I do fear loss of dignity and autonomy. The End of Life Options bill would allow terminally ill people who find life unbearable to die peacefully when and where they choose. Based on experience in other states, relatively few dying people exercise this option. However, it comforts many more to know that a compassionate caregiver could honor a request for help. If you want to improve end of life care in our state, ask your legislators to support this bill.
Susan Cushman
Golden Valley