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A small but loud Catholic crowd shuts down Minnesotans' right to die

"The opposition likes to swirl a lot of things into this to muddy the waters. Their campaign is based on fear," says Dan Diaz.

"The opposition likes to swirl a lot of things into this to muddy the waters. Their campaign is based on fear," says Dan Diaz.

Dying is never pretty. For some people, it’s downright horrifying.

Sally Settle of Apple Valley was sitting beside her 75-year-old mother when she was diagnosed with leukemia and told she would have just six months to live. She wanted to know what death with leukemia would be like.

A doctor told her that eventually, her blood transfusions would stop working and she would bleed to death over several days out of every orifice in her body.

The family was supposed to stock up on dark-colored towels to make it less traumatic.

Settle’s mother was terrified of dying this way. She wanted to move to Oregon, where it’s legal for terminally ill people to end their own lives at home, using pills, with the help of a doctor.

In the end, she decided she wanted to spend the final six months of her life with her 14 grandchildren in Minnesota. The cost: three torturous days of dying in the hospital.

State Sen. Chris Eaton (DFL-Brooklyn Center) had a bill that would have given Minnesotans the right to die peacefully at home if they’re certain to die in a hospital anyway.

Speaking for the bill on Wednesday were people like Settle, whose mother begged her to get involved in the right to die movement so other people wouldn’t have to suffer the way she did.

— MNCatholicConference (@MNCatholicConf) March 16, 2016
Speaking against was a bunch of people whom the bill wouldn’t have affected in the slightest. There were folks who didn’t like the “message” that the bill might symbolically send to those trying to live with disease. There was the Minnesota Catholic Conference, which rounded up droves of detractors who believed that their religion was a good reason to deny everybody else the right to choose how they died.

After hours of testimony from both sides, Eaton took the bill off the table. It wasn’t ready for a vote, she said, because too many people were really confused about what it meant.

The people who got their way in the end are definitely in the minority. According to Gallup, nearly 70 percent of Americans believe that the terminally ill living in severe pain should be allowed to ask a doctor for help completing suicide.