Right-to-die group fined $30K in Minnesota woman’s suicide

FILE - In this March 25, 2015, file photo, a portrait of Brittany Maynard sits on the dias of the Senate Health Committee at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., as lawmakers took testimony on proposed legislation allowing doctors to prescribe life ending medication to terminally ill patients.

HASTINGS, Minn. (KRON/AP) — As the debate ramps up in California over the latest push for assisted suicide for terminally ill patients, a national right-to-die group has been fined $30,000 for assisting in the suicide of a Minnesota woman.

Final Exit Network was convicted in May of assisting the suicide of 57-year-old Doreen Dunn in 2007. The group was also convicted on a lesser charge of interfering with a death scene.

Dunn lived with chronic pain for a decade before she took her own life.

At Monday’s sentencing, Dakota County District Judge Christian Wilton ordered Final Exit Network to pay nearly $3,000 in restitution to Dunn’s family to cover funeral expenses. But the judge declined to order the 15 years of probation sought by prosecutors.

Robert Rivas, an attorney for the group, says they’ll pay the fine but intend to appeal.

Dunn’s husband, Mark Dunn, says the group places itself above the law. He calls it calculating and cruel.

In California, lawmakers are considering a bill modeled after an Oregon ‘death with dignity’ law that would permit patients with fewer than six months to live to end their suffering by taking lethal drugs prescribed by a physician. The legislation calls for protections against abuse.

Under the bill, two doctors would have to confirm that a patient was terminal and mentally competent. The patient would need to make two oral requests to a doctor at least 15 days apart, with witnesses. In addition, the doctor and patient would have to meet once alone, and the medication would have to be self-administered.

The bill passed the Senate in June, but it stalled in the Assembly Health Committee. The measure was expected to be shelved until next year.

But last week, backed by legislative leaders, sponsors revived the bill by taking an opportunity to insert their proposal into a special session. The bill was re-packaged as part of a special legislative session on health care funding, which will allow the measure to bypass the Assembly Health Committee where it stalled.

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