ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — One of many hot topics at the State Capitol Monday: Should terminally ill patients have the right to end their lives?

A bill allowing physician-assisted death is getting a hearing in a Minnesota Senate committee.

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Minnesota’s law against suicide will not be changed this legislative session. But the Senate Committee on Health, Human Services and Housing is hearing testimony Monday evening on the topic.

“Start the conversation tonight!  It will be laid on the table, which will keep it alive for next year,” State Senator Chris Eaton said.

Eaton said 17 other states are also beginning the legislative process to allow physician-assisted death. Her bill would require patients wanting to end their lives be doctor-certified as terminally ill, 18 years of age or older and of sound mind, according to at least two physicians.

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“It gives them the choice to forego some of the worst effects of their illness that comes in the later stages, just before death,” Eaton said.

Even at an early afternoon session of the committee that did not get to the so-called “Right to Die” bill, opponents were very visible. Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life has the hearing on its Web site, calling the proposed law assisted suicide.

“There have been a lot of efforts around the country to legalize assisted suicide, but only three or four states actually have it legal,” Bill Poehler said. “It’s been turned down in many other states, so we’re hopeful that here in Minnesota they’ll recognize that there is not public support.”

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The Senate Health and Human Services committee is meeting Monday night at the Capitol. The “Right to Die” bill will also be heard in next year’s legislative session.