Sunday, December 2, 2012

Montana has not legalized assisted suicide

The following letter was written by Dr. David W. Hafer and published in the Billings Gazette in Montana on December 2, 2012 under the title: Montana has not legalized assisted suicide.
Montana has not legalized Assisted Suicide 
A recent AP article which appeared Nov. 16 in most major newspapers in our state incorrectly stated that Montana is the third state to allow assisted suicide, along with Washington and Oregon. Attorneys Greg Jackson and Matt Bowman did an extensive analysis of the case and concluded it "did not legalize assisted suicide and it continues to carry both criminal and civil liability for any doctor, institution, or lay person involved." The Montana Lawyer, the official publication of the Montana State Bar concluded the issue is open to argument, confirming that the Legislature needs to clarify the issue this coming session. 
Your readership needs to know that there are problems inherent in passing a law that would allow a physician to kill their patient. People need to understand that we are talking about a physician writing a prescription for the express purpose of one taking their own life. The very oath that physicians take in stepping into this profession states that they "shall do no harm." Their purpose is to cure, to heal, to provide comfort and care at the end of life, but not to aid in facilitating the end of that life through active means. 
Physicians are fallible human beings and often are wrong in their prognosis concerning how long a patient will survive their illness. Often, it is depression that prompts one to think that life is not worth living or perhaps the feeling that because of their illness they are a burden to their family. The whole matter is a recipe for elder abuse. 
I appreciate the opportunity to set the record straight and hope that The Gazette will continue to report on this vital topic. 
David W Hafer, DDS, MS
Dayton

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