Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Stephen Drake's blog - Montana Court to rule on Assisted Suicide Case

Not Dead Yet is following the Montana Court case closely. It is important to note that people from all political persuasions oppose assisted suicide when they analyze how it will effect people with disabilities and other groups of vulnerable people.

The recent article about the euthanasia deaths during the Katrina Hurricane prove that vulnerable people will be killed against their consent.

Alex Schadenberg

NY Times: Montana Court to Rule on Assisted Suicide Case

Tomorrow (Sept. 2, 2009) the Montana Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the Montana Attorney General's challenge of a lower court ruling that defined assisted suicide as a "right."

Today's edition of the New York Times contains a fairly good account of the stakes - and stakeholders - in the current legal battle in Montana. Kudos to reporter Kirk Johnson for going beyond the "usual suspects" and giving a richer picture of the players and arguments in play against legalization of assisted suicide:

Some people speaking out about the case, like Bob Liston, are also expressing sentiments that one might not expect.

Mr. Liston, 54, a research associate at the University of Montana who has spent most of the last 40 years in a wheelchair because of an auto accident, has been a passionate advocate for the disabled in arguing for autonomy and respect.

But this time he is arguing just as passionately on the other side, contending that aid in dying could backfire on people with debilitating conditions, leading not to more autonomy, but less. Mr. Liston, an organizer for a national disability-rights group called Not Dead Yet, said he envisioned people like himself being nudged toward life-ending choices by their doctors or families, out of compassion or perhaps convenience.

“People with disabilities don’t get to live with dignity, let alone die with dignity,” he said.

Other opponents of a “right to die well,” as some are calling the argument made by Mr. Baxter and the group of physicians who joined him as plaintiffs, say that rural Montanans could be left out, too.

In places like Scobey, in the state’s far northeast corner, where Julie French lives, the population density is about one person per square mile. Minimal health care is hours away.

“Before we deal with assisted suicide, we should make sure first and foremost that everybody has equal access,” said Ms. French, a Democratic state legislator who opposes an expansion of death rights. “It is not simply whether everyone has a right to choose; it’s whether they are given all the choices.”

More news as it develops over the coming days, weeks and months...

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