Lawsuit would keep assisted suicide illegal in Montana.
The following letter was written by Bradley Williams, the president of Montanans Against Assisted Suicide and published in the Missoulian on September 6, 2013
I am the president of Montanans Against Assisted Suicide. Robert Minto’s (Aug. 29) letterregarding our lawsuit against the Board of Medical Examiners was ill-informed. First, assisted suicide is not legal in Montana. Second, the goal of our lawsuit is to keep it that way.
Our reasons for opposing legalization include: it will encourage people with years to live to throw away their lives; it will create new paths of elder abuse; and it will empower government health plans and other insurers to offer suicide as a “treatment” in lieu of desired traditional treatments (to cure, to improve the quality of life and/or to extend life). See: http://bit.ly/14ZUJfz.
Minto’s letter implies that assisted suicide is legal under the Baxter decision. That decision, however, merely gives a potential defense to a homicide charge.
Bills to legalize assisted suicide have been defeated in the past two legislative sessions. In 2013, a bill that would have legalized assisted suicide, Senate Bill 220, did not even get out of committee. In 2011, a similar bill, SB167, also died in committee.
During a hearing on SB167, the sponsor Sen. Anders Blewett made statements on the record conceding that assisted suicide was not legal then, and with the failure of the above bills, it’s not legal now. For example, he said: “under the current law ... there’s nothing to protect the doctor from prosecution.” Dr. Stephen Speckart, a plaintiff in Baxter, made a similar statement, as follows: “most physicians feel significant dis-ease with the limited safeguards and possible risk of criminal prosecution after the Baxter decision.”