Friday, March 13, 2015

Montana House debates bill to stop assisted suicide.

By Alex Schadenberg
International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Montana House
Montana came one step closer to closing the door on assisted suicide. on Thursday March 12, when the Montana House passed House Bill 477, by a vote of 51 to 49. HB 477 would include physician-assisted suicide within the current state law that prohibits "aiding or soliciting suicide."

(Update: The vote to send the bill to the senate was tied 50 to 50  on Friday March 13. The bill may be dead.)

For the past few years Montana has faced a confusing situation with respect to assisted suicide. In 2009, the Baxter court decision declared that Montana citizens had a right to assisted suicide. This decision was appealed to the Supreme Court in Montana that decided that Montana citizens do not have a right to assisted suicide. The Court did not overturn the statute protecting Montana citizens from assisted suicide, but the Court did grant a tightly worded defense of consent, if a physician was prosecuted for assisted suicide.

Therefore physician-assisted suicide remains illegal in Montana, if prosecuted, a physician could use a defense of consent.

According to the Revalli Republic news Rep. Jerry Bennett, the sponsor of the bill, stated that the bill faces a final vote on Friday before it can advance to the Montana Senate. Bennett stated:
Montana already has a high suicide rate, and that in Oregon, which allows assisted suicide, the suicide rate is much higher than the national average.
Senate Bill 202, a bill that would have legalized assisted suicide in Montana was defeated last month at the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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