Minnesota Committee Approves Measure Helping Patients Like Terri Schiavo

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 15, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Minnesota Committee Approves Measure Helping Patients Like Terri Schiavo Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
March 15, 2006

St. Paul, MN (LifeNews.com) — Minnesota legislators have approved a measure backed by pro-life groups that would make sure patients like Terri Schiavo are not denied food and water that could lead to their death. The bill they approved would allow patients to continue receiving it even if they cannot express their own wishes.

During the Tuesday hearing, a paraplegic woman wrote a letter to lawmakers about how she had considered committing suicide but was glad now that she was still alive.

Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life backed the measure, which the committee approved and is expected to pass through the state House as well. Its prospects in the Senate are less certain.

"This is reasonable legislation," MCCL’s Laura Gese told lawmakers. "Food and water are basic care not medicine. To withdraw this basic human need when the purpose is to cause death without the express will of the patient is simply inhumane."

The legislation makes the presumption that any incapacitated patient like Terri Schiavo or one who is comatose would not want to be deprived of food and water, according to a St. Paul Pioneer Press report.

Exceptions are written into the bill that would not make that presumption if the food and water would not keep the person alive or provide the person comfort, if the patient had an advanced directive authorizing revocation of food and water, of if there is "clear and convincing evidence" that the person gave consent to withhold food and water before becoming incapacitated.

Meanwhile, lawmakers express varying views on the bill.

Rep. Mary Ellen Otremba, a Democrat, joined other lawmakers in approving the measure. She talked about her husbands battle with death, according to a St. Paul Pioneer Press article.

"It’s a little bit hard for me to talk about this but when my husband was dying, we had a conversation. He said to me, ‘I just can’t do this anymore and I need to move on.’ So, that will to live and survive moves to another dimension," she told members of the committee.

Opponents of the measure said it would complicate the dying process with more litigation.