Arne Carlson says that Minnesota should legalize assisted suicide (“Medically assisted death is not a partisan issue,” March 2). He says the proposed bill to do so contains adequate safeguards. He’s wrong.
The legislation includes no safeguards once the lethal drug has been dispensed. And it doesn’t guard against the pressure insurers may exert if they offer to cover suicide but not expensive life-extending treatment. That’s happened in some states that already have assisted suicide laws.
Moreover, the bill doesn’t require a psychiatric evaluation before a patient is given a lethal prescription. In the states with assisted suicide, suicide-seeking patients virtually never undergo such an evaluation, and some people with histories of depression have received assisted suicide rather than treatment.
Carlson says people who are “suffering from a terminal illness” should be eligible for assisted suicide. Yet six-month prognoses are often unreliable. Government data from other states shows that some patients have qualified for assisted suicide only to live for years after.
Nor does the proposed bill require that patients experience suffering in order to be eligible. In fact, in both Oregon and Washington (the first two states to legalize assisted suicide), concern about the possibility of pain isn’t even among the top five reasons people actually give for having assisted suicides.
Carlson tells us that this shouldn't be a partisan issue. He's right about that. Republican or Democrat, assisted suicide is a danger to all of us.
Paul Stark, Communications director, Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life