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Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom is looking into civil options to prevent Final Exit Network Inc. from providing suicide advice in Minnesota following a felony conviction and fine for the right-to-die group for assisting an Apple Valley woman’s suicide (“Final Exit will pay fine, press on,” Aug. 25), and that woman’s husband, speaking before a judge, cited the group’s “cruel disregard” for the feelings of others, including family members. Why are the feelings of the family more important than the agony of the patient herself?

Any doctor can tell stories of patients put through days or weeks of hell at the end of life because family members are most concerned about their own feelings. After my wife and family had accepted her death from brain cancer and had begun hospice care, one of our banes was well-meaning people who would read about some treatment they had seen on the Internet and would urge: “You have to try it.” This only resulted in temporary confusion.

I realize that assisted suicide is different from withholding futile treatment, but we should accept the fact that much of the family’s concern is actually a selfish refusal to accept the unpleasant. Perhaps Mr. Backstrom would like to invalidate end-of-life choices in living wills as well.

Edward Stegman, Hastings

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The Final Exit conviction exposes the very real problem faced by terminally ill patients who want to end their suffering. Denied the means to a peaceful end, they resort to desperate measures. In Oregon, individuals like Brittany Maynard, the brain-cancer sufferer who moved there to take advantage of its Death with Dignity law, have options that we Minnesotans do not. We can change the law — not to legitimize suicide, but to allow people like Doreen Dunn to turn to the medical system for compassionate care at the end of life.

Rebecca Thoman, Minneapolis

• • •

For shame, Dakota County Judge Christian Wilton and County Attorney Backstrom for the guilty verdict against Final Exit Network based on speech related to the self-deliverance death of Doreen Dunn. Ms. Dunn was able to die peacefully, by her own free choice, in her own home. This is not against the law.

I question how providing education, information and a compassionate presence result in a conviction of assisting a suicide on the basis of speech alone. The education provided by Final Exit Network does not include “advising or encouraging” anyone to end their life.

We do hold that people suffering intolerably from any physical medical condition that is ultimately incurable with an unacceptable quality of life have the right to choose how, when, where and with whom to end their lives.

If you support our mission, stand with us, speak out in support of our work or become a member as we appeal this decision.

My goal is to see an outcry of support as we mount this appeal against this ill-contrived, blatantly unconstitutional infringement on the right of all of us to free and protected speech under the First Amendment.

Fran Schindler, Chapel Hill, N.C.

The writer is regional coordinator for Final Exit Network Inc.


Medical marijuana is the answer to prescription-painkiller abuse

Minnesota certainly does need a new strategy to fight opioid addiction (“Closing the gateway that leads to heroin,” editorial, Aug. 25). Unfortunately, Gov. Mark Dayton bowed to the pressure of law enforcement lobbyists and supported a limited medicinal cannabis law that excluded intractable pain. Studies have found that states with medical marijuana laws have fewer deaths from opioid overdoses than those without. Other studies have shown that cannabis has the potential to manage pain symptoms and at least reduce the dosage of opioids needed to manage severe pain. The risks of opioids include addiction and death from overdose. Cannabis is a much safer alternative. It has a much lower risk for dependence, and there has yet to be a documented death from overdose.

Minnesota’s medical cannabis law was designed with a research component, and the state is currently offering sessions for public input on adding intractable pain to the qualifying conditions list. Public testimony will be taken at a meeting of an advisory panel to be held from 4 to 9 p.m. Sept. 3 in the Minnetonka City Council chambers, and comments are being accepted online ( If the state truly intends to research this alternative to opioids, this presents the perfect opportunity to update the law by Jan. 1 as the current statute dictates.

Chris Kurle, Brooklyn Park


Well, this State Fair fan thinks it’s a fine spot for a protest

I love the State Fair with a passion that borders on obsession. Because of my affection for the Great Minnesota Get-Together, friends assume I’d be upset about the Black Lives Matter protest planned for Saturday. Not true at all — I have no problem with disruption for a good cause.

If I’m willing to wait half an hour for deep-fried pickles, I can spend a little time on something as important as ending racism. Fairgoers, the least we can do for our neighbors suffering injustice is to put down the mini doughnuts for a bit and listen.

Julie Blaha, Ramsey


Must every space be polished? Could some just stay functional?

In response to “Factory of dreams” (Aug. 21), about IFP Minnesota — the Independent Filmmaker Project — getting hip new headquarters in an old St. Paul mattress factory:

The derelict buildings that developer First & First is buying and renovating have been serving a vital role in the creative community. These are not empty, abandoned properties, but are filled with artists and makers who rely on buildings such as this with industrial infrastructure.

Before F & F acquired this property, it was a thriving, collaborative community of long-term tenants. Now, the long-term folks who actually make things will be forced out. We’re not actually asked to leave, but are pressured by the rising cost of rent, or the inconvenience of being in what is becoming a stylish, hipster-vibe office building without a proper loading dock. We actually need concrete floors, freight elevators, three-phase power, loading docks and high ceilings — these are not just novelty features.

What First & First CEO Peter Remes does not realize, or does not care about, is that he is in fact breaking the very sort of environment he’s trying to create each time he buys a building, just to rebuild some semblance of it with tenants with deeper pockets. Some types of businesses require space that is cheaper and unpolished. Can’t you leave some of it alone? First & First just purchased another property that some fleeing this one moved to. How unfortunate for them and everybody else there.

Jason Holtz, St. Paul


Bravo for bravery. And yet, a would-be killer passed security.

So happy to read about our American heroes who foiled the Moroccan man’s plan to do carnage on the fast train from Brussels to Paris — probably saving many, many lives.

I have traveled on that fast train twice. Both times we needed to go through a security check, with X-rays of our bags. How, then, was this man, a known possible terrorist, able to get through security — with weapons?

These things seem to happen time and again, leaving us to wonder if security personnel worldwide are really doing their homework.

Harriet Phillips, Minnetonka