Montana Medical Association Refuses to Help Stop Assisted Suicide Decision

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 29, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Montana Medical Association Refuses to Help Stop Assisted Suicide Decision

by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 29
, 2008

Helena, MT ( — A state judge has misused the privacy section of the state constitution to make Montana the third state in the nation to allow assisted suicide. Although state doctors groups in other states have helped oppose assisted suicide, the head of the Montana Medical Association refuses to get involved.

The judicial ruling sent shockwaves throughout the pro-life community and the decision by the Montana Medical Association to let it stand may result in more.

As reported Judge Dorothy McCarter issued a ruling earlier this month declaring that a patient in a lawsuit and mentally competent, terminally ill Montana residents like him can self-administer drugs given to them in prescriptions from willing doctors.

Montana Attorney General Mike McGrath is filing an appeal to overturn the decision and, while state medical associations elsewhere have strongly opposed assisted suicide, the MMA does not.

MMA President Kirk Stoner told the American Medical Association’s news publication that the medical group has no policy on assisted suicide and no plans to file legal papers supporting McGrath’s appeal.

Despite widespread debate in the medical community over issues like assisted suicide and euthanasia and the international controversy the Terri Schiavo case generated, Stoner says assisted suicide "is not something we’ve discussed recently."

"We don’t have a real reason to get involved right now. There are bigger fish to fry," he claimed.

Stoner said the Montana Medical Association would not get involved in the case unless its members asked it to weigh in on the case.

McGrath has filed legal papers asking Judge McCarter to delay implementation of the ruling until the state’s high court can weigh in on his appeal.

If the high court doesn’t grant the injunction while the case proceeds, then Montana will become the third state to allow assisted suicide, along with Washington and Oregon. That’s because her decision will become legally binding unless the Montana Supreme Court overturns it.

The MMA position puts it at odds with its parent organization, which has a policy opposing assisted suicide as "fundamentally inconsistent with the physician’s role as healer."

ACTION: Contact the Montana Medical Association and urge it to support McGrath’s efforts to overturn Judge McCarter’s decision allowing assisted suicide. Contact the MMA at 2021 Eleventh Avenue, Suite 1, Helena, Montana 59601, (406) 443-4000, fax (406) 443-4042. You can also contact MMA officers by going to

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