Montana Defeats Bill to Protect People From Assisted Suicide

State   Steven Ertelt   Apr 15, 2013   |   5:18PM    Helena, MT

Montana has defeated a bill, House Bill 505, to protect Montana citizens from assisted suicide. The measure was defeated today in the Montana Senate on a 27-23 vote.

Alex Schadenberg of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, who was monitoring the vote, told LifeNews that euthanasia activists spent heavily to influence legislators.

“The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition thanks the Montanans Against Assisted Suicide, Bradley Williams and Margaret Dore for organizing an amazing campaign,” he said. “In the end, we lost because of the last minute money spent by Compassion & Choices on misleading advertising.”

Schadenberg talked more about the legislation and the assisted suicide situation in Montana:

For the past several years Montana has faced a confusing legal 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, they did not overturn statute that protected Montana citizens from assisted suicide, but they did grant a tightly worded defense of consent, if a physician was prosecuted for assisted suicide.

This mean’t that assisted suicide remained illegal in Montana, but if prosecuted, a physician could use the defense of consent. Link: Assisted Suicide is not legal in Montana.

During the 2013 Montana legislative session, Compassion & Choices, a lobby group that promotes assisted suicide, supported Bill SB 220, that would have legalized assisted suicide in Montana. Bill SB 220 was defeated in the Senate Judiciary committee in mid-February. Link: Assisted Suicide bill SB 220 defeated in Montana Judiciary Committee.

At the same time, the Montanans Against Assisted Suicide were promoting Bill HB 505, a bill that clarified the law and protected Montana citizens from assisted suicide. HB 505 was sponsored by Rep. Krayton Kerns. Link: House Bill 505.

In late February HB 505 passed in the Montana House by a vote of 51 to 46 and was sent to the Montana Senate for approval. Link: HB 505 passes.

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Since that time, a group of 112 physicians has organized to support HB 505 and oppose assisted suicide in Montana. Link: 112 Physicians support HB 505.
Diane Coleman, the leader of the disability rights group, Not Dead Yet supports HB 505.

On March 26, the Senate Judiciary committee held public hearings on Bill HB 505, listening to interventions from people supporting both sides of the debate.

Dr. Eric Kress, a doctor in Missoula Montana, admitted to intentionally prescribing three people a lethal dose, to assist their suicide.