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Montana Committee Defeats Bill to Legalize Assisted Suicide

by Alex Schadenberg | Helena, MT | LifeNews.com | 2/14/13 6:54 PM

State

The Montanans Against Assisted Suicide reported that Montana Senate Bill SB 220, the bill to legalize assisted suicide in Montana was defeated by the Senate Judiciary Committee by a vote of 7 to 5. They then voted to table the bill to 2015.

The last two legislative sessions in Montana, have debated a bill to legalize assisted suicide and both times they have defeated the bill.

SB 220 was being promoted by the assisted suicide lobby as a bill to regulate assisted suicide.

The assisted suicide lobby falsely claim that the Baxter court decision in Montana (2009) legalized assisted suicide without regulations and Bill SB 220 was only designed to regulate assisted suicide.

The fact is that the Baxter court decision created a “defense of consent” if a doctor was prosecuted for assisted suicide, leaving assisted suicide as a crime and making prosecutions for assisted suicide possible.

SB 220 would have in fact legalized assisted suicide in Montana. The defeat of SB 220 leaves the Montana legislature open to supporting a bill to close the hole in the law created by the Baxter decision.

The Montanans led their opposition to SB 220 with two main points:

1. Assisted Suicide is a recipe for Elder Abuse.2. SB 220 could not protect people because it did not a require a witness at the death.

The Missoulian newspaper reported that:

Backers of Senate Bill 220 said it would establish legal definitions, clarify that doctors performing the procedure have legal immunity and ensure that doctors unwilling to perform the procedure are not required to do so. …

Opponents argue that the court decision did not specifically legalize it, and instead just gave doctors a defense if charged with a crime.

Former state Sen. Jim Shockley, a Victor lawyer, said that heirs can wrongly influence the elderly in their quest to get an earlier inheritance. He said the proposed rules for physician-assisted suicide would not prevent such abuse.

“Old people can sometimes be talked into it,” Shockley said. “When people get older, they are not quite as sharp.”

Montana Public Radio reported on why people oppose assisted suicide:

“I am 64-years old and I do not want a doctor or a nurse telling me or my wife that we should murder ourselves,” said President of the group Montanans Against Assisted Suicide Bradley Williams. “We have the right to be left alone.”

The bill does not in any way mandate the use of assisted suicide, it would be voluntary.

Those against the bill do say it allows for elder abuse—especially when inheritance is involved.

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Also, Kalispell physician Annie Bukacek says doctors are often wrong when predicting things like life expectancy. She brought up a friend with breast cancer that moved to her lungs. Doctors told her she had 6 months to live, “and that was 15 years ago, she still has a medical practice and she’s still playing tennis. If assisted suicide becomes legal in this state there will be Montanans who kill themselves who could have had many quality years.”

Congratulations to everyone who worked to defeat SB 220 in Montana, especially Bradley Williams, from Montanans Against Assisted Suicide, and Margaret Dore.
LifeNews.com Note: Alex Schadenberg is the executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition and you can read his blog here.