First, to be clear, assisted suicide is not legal in Montana. The Montana Supreme Court Baxter decision merely gave doctors a potential defense to prosecution for homicide. This defense is not guaranteed. Baxter did not address, let alone reverse prior caselaw allowing doctors and others to be sued for causing or failing to prevent a suicide. Montana attorney Greg Jackson, with attorney Matt Bowman, states:
"After Baxter, assisted suicide continues to carry both criminal and civil liability risks for any doctor, institution, or lay person involved."Second, legalization is a recipe for elder abuse. Legalization would allow heirs and others who will benefit financially from an older person's death to legally pressure and abuse that person to end his or her life. This is contrary to Montana official public policy to prevent elder abuse.
Third, legalization will empower healthcare providers, including the government, to steer individuals to suicide. This has happened in Oregon where assisted suicide is legal. The most well known cases involve Barbara Wagner and Randy Stroup. Each wanted treatment. The Oregon Health Plan offered them coverage for suicide instead. See e.g. Susan Donaldson James, "Death Drugs Cause Uproar in Oregon," ABC News, August 6, 2008.
For factual information about assisted suicide, please visit our website at www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org Please sign our petition! Donations are appreciated!
Bradley D. Williams
Coordinator Montanans Against Assisted Suicide & For Living with Dignity