Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Assisted Suicide is Not Legal in Montana; Clarification Needed

The Montanans Against Assisted Suicide and for Living with Dignity put an important update on their website concerning the status of Senator Hinkle's Bill SB 116, the Elder Abuse Prevention Act. There is confusion in Montana related to the Montana Supreme Court - Baxter decision, which did not legalize assisted suicide but gave physicians, if prosecuted, a potential defense of consent.

Please read the update:

On February 10, 2010, the Senate Judiciary Committee defeated and tabled SB 167, which would have legalized physician-assisted suicide in Montana. Despite this defeat, some assisted suicide proponents are encouraging doctors and others to engage in assisting and/or causing suicide, claiming that the practice is legal under Baxter v. State.

Under Baxter, doctors are given a potential defense to a homicide charge, which may or may not succeed. Baxter did not overrule prior case law imposing civil liability for doctors and others who cause another person’s suicide, typically in a hospital or jail setting. Under Baxter, doctors and others can still be held criminally and civilly liable for causing another person’s suicide.

Historically, the movement to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia has had a eugenic component, which seems to be the case here. Legalization is, regardless, a recipe for elder abuse, which Baxter completely overlooked. Baxter also overlooked statistics from Oregon showing a positive correlation between legalization of assisted suicide and an increased rate of other violent suicides. Montana already has one of the highest suicide rates in the country. Montana does not need even more suicide.

Senator Hinkle’s bill, SB 116, is a short simple bill that seeks to return Montana to the status quo of 47 other states in which assisted suicide is clearly not allowed. SB 116 is needed because, with Baxter, the law is convoluted; Montanans, especially our older citizens, are not protected.

References:
The Hinkle Report: Link
SB 116 at a glance: Link Elder Abuse At a Glance

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