The Free Press, Mankato, MN

February 27, 2013

Your View: Legislature should pass medical amnesty

By Marissa Kramer, North Mankato

— I am writing to you today on behalf of young people and on the potential for medical amnesty to save lives.

Two bills were recently introduced for the purpose of implementing medical amnesty throughout the state. If enacted, the bills will provide limited legal immunity to persons participating in underage drinking, should they call for medical help in the case of an emergency. To ensure passage in the House and Senate, each legislator needs to be reminded of the importance of breaking down barriers to medical attention for underage drinkers.

In 2010, Boynton Health Services found over 37 percent of 20 year olds in Minnesota participated in high risk drinking. The following year, Boynton Health Services found over 14 percent of Minnesota college students were not likely to call 911 if someone was unresponsive due to alcohol use.

By instituting medical amnesty across the state, this hesitation will cease. This policy will allow young people to make the right choice in a bad situation.

Ten other states have already implemented this policy. As one of the strongest proponents for the policy, Cornell has conducted a number of studies and surveys in regards to alcohol consumption and the medical emergencies associated with it. A study done in 2006 found medical amnesty policies increased the number of emergency calls made, while the rate of underage drinking remained the same. This policy is truly one of public safety.

Medical amnesty will provide a responsible avenue for underage drinkers to seek medical attention for any person in need. Tell your local legislator to pass medical amnesty for Minnesota.