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Dear members of the Minnesota Legislature: 

Earlier this year, a group of you introduced the End-of-Life Option Act SF 1813/HF 1930. If this act is passed and signed into law, Minnesotans would have access to medical aid in dying (i.e., euthanasia would become legal in Minnesota).

Although the word “evil” has fallen into disfavor these days, I wish to call a spade a spade. The End-of-Life Option Act is evil. As your fellow Minnesotan, I implore you: Don’t join the growing number of states that license murder. 

There is much that I could write in opposition to this bill. How it redefines longstanding medical and legal concepts such as a doctor’s standard of care, suicide, murder, and medication. How it condones despair. How it permits the aiding and abetting of the taking of innocent human life. But all of that would involve an appeal to reason and common sense. And the very fact that this act has been introduced and is being debated suggests that we have moved beyond reason and common sense. I will therefore appeal not to your mind, but your heart. 

If passed into law, this act would allow a qualified medical provider to issue a “prescription for medical aid in dying medication” to a “qualified individual.” A “qualified individual” is defined as someone who has a “terminal disease.” A “terminal disease” means “an incurable and irreversible disease that has been medically confirmed and will, within reasonable medical judgment, produce death within six months.” In other words, if you are an adult and receive a diagnosis of six months left to live or less, you are eligible—with a doctor’s prescription—to kill yourself. 

On Easter Sunday 2007, my mother was diagnosed with stage-four liver and colon cancer. She was told she would die within six months. At the time, she didn’t inform her seven children of this. I learned about it later, from my father, after my mother had passed away approximately seven months after her diagnosis. If the End-of-Life Option Act had been in effect in North Dakota, where my parents lived, my mother could have been legally prescribed the medical aid in dying (MAiD) medication. If she’d taken it, she would have been spared enormous physical suffering: sleepless nights, nausea and vomiting, incredible abdominal pain, six months of wretched chemotherapy, insufferable heart burn, the loss of her hair, the withering of her body. And it would have spared her the agony of her last week of life—just after Thanksgiving, when the whole family was together for the last time—when she descended first into semi-conscious torment, and then unconsciousness, lying first on our twenty-year-old floral-pattern couch, so worn my father placed a board underneath the cushions for support, and then on the hospice bed she died in on November 29, 2007, surrounded by her husband and children.

Yes, the medication would have spared her untold suffering. But it would have robbed her of much else besides. 

The opportunity to meet a grandchild, my oldest brother’s son, born in May 2007, the only one of some twenty-plus grandchildren that my mother had the opportunity to meet.

The occasion to bury her father, that hardy North Dakota farmer who, it seems, could not bear the thought of seeing his only daughter pass before him and who died in August at age ninety-three, just months before my mother. 

The time to say a long goodbye to her children, especially her youngest, a mere thirteen years old when she passed. The only one of the seven children still at home, a sort of miracle baby born when my mother was forty-three, and whom she homeschooled to the end. 

The opportunity to meet my wife—at the time, she was only a friend, but we were already in love, and my mother sensed this—when I came home in October with two vehicles full of college friends. We ate my mother’s cooking, and prayed over her, and truly believed in a miracle, not knowing or believing that this still vibrant woman would be dead within a month. 

The chance to be a witness, and a light, and a beacon of hope to so many—those in her small town, but also people around the country. In her last months, she posted inspirational CaringBridge messages about how she accepted her suffering as redemptive and purposeful, drawing her closer and closer to the heart of Christ through Saint Faustina.

The MAiD medication would have robbed her of that last Thanksgiving, when the whole family gathered for one last family photo, mother looking surprisingly splendid and lovely—yes, nearing death, but still vibrantly alive, death clearly not having victory over her. 

And perhaps most important, the MAiD medication would have robbed her of the grace of reconciliation between her and her husband. I don’t know all the hurt and wounds of my parents' marriage. And it wouldn’t be my story to tell if I did. But I do know there was hurt. And I do know there were wounds. But I also know there was healing and forgiveness in those last seven months. At my mother’s packed funeral, my father, who loved to talk to strangers about sports and shared acquaintances and such, but who was reticent in personal matters, spoke about the gift of those months spent learning to give and receive love and forgiveness again. During my mother’s cancer journey, in the hiddenness of that crusty ranch house in middle-of-nowhere North Dakota, in the long hours of the night as my father learned to care for his ailing wife, there was healing. Healing of her body? No. But there is something more important than the earthly body, more lasting, of greater eternal weight. My mother’s soul was sanctified those seven months, and my father brought near to Christ. 

Senators and representatives of Minnesota, there is something more painful than physical suffering, worse even than death: Being told, and believing, that your life is worthless, and that you would be better off dead. The End-of-Life Option Act speaks this evil lie. So please, Minnesota legislators, defeat it.

Jeffrey Wald writes from West Saint Paul, Minnesota. 

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