Readers write: Medical assistance in dying, military vaccinations, budget surplus, people in need

Readers write: Medical assistance in dying, military vaccinations, budget surplus, people in need

Review Editor’s Note: Star Tribune Opinion publishes letters readers online and in print every day. To contribute, click here.


In his article, Ross Douthat dangerously links Canada’s evolving and less stringent euthanasia law to historically stringent U.S. laws on physician-assisted dying, misleading the public and lawmakers (“Suicide vs. civilization in Canada”, Opinion Exchange, December 6).

Every US jurisdiction that has authorized medical assistance in dying has fundamental safeguards that have remained effective. This medical practice is only available to mentally capable, terminally ill adults who have six months or less to live. These adults must also be able to self-ingest the drug. None of the 10 states, including Oregon, where its death with dignity law has been in effect for decades, has degenerated into a dystopia. In fact, states with legal medical assistance in dying laws have some of the highest rates of palliative care utilization, including Oregon, which leads the nation.

Choosing the right end-of-life care must remain a personal decision that reflects the person’s values ​​and respects their autonomy. Criminalizing the choice to die peacefully or forcing a terminally ill person to suffer the ravages of their disease is cruel and barbaric.

Polls show us that most American voters across geographic, ideological, and religious spectrums support physician-assisted dying as an available option. The laws of the United States regarding this medical practice are designed to hold dying Americans accountable and respect all end-of-life spiritual beliefs.

Rebecca Thoman, Minneapolis

The author is director of Doctors for Dignity, an initiative of Compassion & Choices.


Douthat’s hair is on fire from medical assistance in dying. Aside from his apparent distaste for it, he presents no real reason why a mentally capable adult shouldn’t have the right to end their own life, let alone someone who lives with intractable suffering. Maybe he wouldn’t mind so much if the person shot himself or jumped off a bridge, but that a doctor could provide the means for a peaceful death strikes him as “barbarian”.

I was unable to find the article by Maria Cheng that Douthat cites as a source for her column, but I did consult Health Canada’s Third Annual Federal Report on Physician-Assisted Dying and various articles on current Canadian law and future changes. These include allowing medical assistance in dying for patients with chronic mental illness. Additional guarantees for these include a 90-day waiting and evaluation period. While some articles cite vague apprehensions, none have been able to point to actual abuse of the law.

Liberal end-of-life options, from palliative care — which 80% of Canadians receiving medical assistance in dying also received — to denial of further treatment to doctor-prescribed deadly drugs, are not the end of civilization . Rather, they are made possible by our growing respect for individual human autonomy, our rejection of the belief that suffering is somehow good for your soul, and our recognition that even with the wonders of modern medicine, all suffering cannot be relieved. It’s not a slippery slope; it is progress.

Janet Conn, Edina


Reading the debate about COVID vaccination in the military, I laugh thinking back to my Navy boot camp days when we went for our mandatory inoculations against all the diseases in the world. We received seven in all on this round, and all in one session, as we walked between two phalanxes of corpsmen and their injection guns. I wonder what response I would have gotten in boot camp if I had whined, stamped and refused to take my meds. This kerfuffle was pure political grandstanding by Rep. Kevin McCarthy, stamping his foot and saying “no” as he headed for election as president.

At public school, we ask our children to be vaccinated several times for the good of the cause: to protect all the other children. With the exception of religious or medical exemptions, I see no reason why all soldiers should not be treated the same. Now be good and take your meds.

Harald Eriksen, Brooklyn Park


Hmm. There is a fiscal surplus of $17.6 billion (“State surplus rises to $17.6 billion”, front page, December 7).

The purpose of taxes is to pay for the needs of society. Maybe needs like highways, public transportation, and repairing old bridges. Check, we need it. Internet access in rural areas. Yes, we need it. Public education? Test scores and literacy would be down. If the children are not brought up well, they do not do well. Check, we need it. Health care systems (not insurers, apparently) are running out of money to pay for their infrastructure, living wages for employees, etc. Check. We need it. Housing and food security for a growing portion of our population (has anyone noticed there seems to be a problem with homelessness there?). Need this. Assisted living issues for vulnerable older adults. Check. Lots of problems there. Our clean water supply, a basic necessity of life is threatened by fertilizers and pesticides and industrial runoff. Big big problem there.

Why are we talking about tax refunds when there are all these problems to solve and many more? Do we not have the political will to face our current realities?

Tim Emory, St. Paul


Dear Governor Tim Walz, please prove to the Republicans that this was not an election year stunt and send me my refund check as soon as possible. Thanks.

Let me try to enlighten other Democratic leaders who may not be sold on the idea. Everyone I know agrees that there is no program or service you can create that helps me more than just letting me spend my money directly on the crippling bills that are rapidly inflating due to inflation. We deserve a chance to spend at least some of our overtaxed money on our own expenses and problems, and not just watch it all go to vague programs to alleviate other people’s problems. For those of you who can’t relate to this feeling, maybe it’s time to think about forming your own Ivory Tower party.

Pat Flynn, St. Paul


Thanks for the story reminding readers that government budget surplus projections do not include inflation. I sincerely hope that politicians who have emphasized high inflation during political campaigns to win votes are willing to support its inclusion in future budget projections. You can’t complain about a problem during an election and then ignore it.

Matt Flory, St. Louis Park


As I drove home from the Ordway last week, I was acutely aware of the change in weather. Rather than wait 30 minutes for the express bus, I opted for a warmer, more circuitous route. At the 46th Street light rail station, a young woman in her twenties, her nose all red, crouched down in the corner of an alcove. She hadn’t bothered to get up to turn on the heating. I asked her where she would spend the night. A tent on Lake Street, she told me.

As I waited for the #2 bus, a Native American, moving like he was in distress but still quite eloquent, told me he was heading north from Minneapolis, where a friend had a wood burning stove. wood. As a diabetic, he ate ice cream sandwiches to raise his blood sugar. “I have to bring them into me,” he said.

The morning I write this it is 5 degrees above zero. As the darkest months of the year unfold, remember those that are colder, and perhaps also darker. These people use our public transport system, one of the last links in the social chain. This system deserves our support.

David Thomas, Minneapolis

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