Commentary by JAMES PARK,
existential philosopher and Board member of C&C-MN.
I invite all others to read the proposed
law and decide for themselves.
The part I like most about this proposed law is the
which encourages Minnesotans to create their own advance directives for
The most harmful and dangerous part of the proposed
law comes at the end,
where it mandates that artificial feeding and hydration be started and
unless there are specified conditions for not doing so.
In short this law mandates a default answer to this question:
"Should food and water ever be withdrawn of withheld
in order to shorten the process of your dying?"
If you offer no proof to the contrary, the state answers for you: "NO".
At present (before any such law is enacted), we have
full freedom of choice
with respect to food and water all other means of life-support.
We can decide we want "everything possible"
or we can decide to limit the application of medical technology
(and any form of medical care)
at any time up and including our last year of life.
The people who make such decisions are:
(1) the patient himself or herself if still able to make medical
(2) duly-appointed proxies for the patient,
(3) family members if there are no official proxies,
(4) doctors who know the specific circumstances.
This proposed law creates a new default decision for
everyone living in Minnesota.
If we have not established any decision-making process to the contrary,
the state of Minnesota would require that food and water
continue to be provided thru various tubes.
And the proposed law names various persons
who are permitted to intervene to enforce this default answer.
Especially dangerous is the following provision.
The fifth kind of person who could intervene in our medical decisions
"(5) a public official with appropriate jurisdiction
to prosecute or enforce the laws of this state."
An alternative title for this proposed law---which is equally one-sided
Force Feed the Terminally Ill.
A neutral title would be:
Begin and Continue Artificial Nutrition and Hydration.
In my personal opinion, this proposed law would do more
harm than good.
It is not needed.
But if it does become law, then all Minnesotans will have a very strong
to create advance directives for medical care,
specifying the conditions under which they would want
---including artificial nutrition and hydration---and when they would not.