Thursday, March 27, 2014

Protect your health care; keep assisted suicide out of Montana

http://missoulian.com/news/opinion/mailbag/protect-your-health-care-keep-assisted-suicide-out-of-montana/article_80004bcc-ae06-11e3-99f7-001a4bcf887a.html

I am a doctor in Oregon, where physician assisted suicide is legal. I have been following the ongoing attempt to legalize assisted suicide in Montana.

I was first exposed to this issue in 1982 shortly before my first wife died of cancer. We had just visited her doctor. As we were leaving, he had suggested that she overdose herself on medication. I still remember the look of horror on her face. She said “Ken, he wants me to kill myself.“

In Oregon, the combination of assisted-suicide legalization and prioritized medical care based on prognosis has created a danger for my patients on the Oregon Health Plan (Medicaid). Helpful treatments are often not covered. The plan will cover the patient’s suicide. For more detail, please read my affidavit filed on behalf of the Canadian government at http://maasdocuments.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/signed-stevens-aff-9-18-12.pdf 

Our assisted suicide law was passed in 1997. In 2000, one of my patients was adamant she would use our law. I stalled her and ultimately convinced her to be treated instead. Nearly 14 years later she is thrilled to be alive.

Protect your health care, yourselves and your families. I urge you to tell your elected officials to keep assisted suicide out of Montana.

Kenneth Stevens,
Sherwood, Ore.

Monday, February 24, 2014

"My concerns about legalizing assisted suicide include that it will encourage 'lazy doctoring.'”

http://helenair.com/news/opinion/readers_alley/against-physician-assisted-suicide/article_7b17e3b6-9b57-11e3-ab51-001a4bcf887a.html

I am a general medical practitioner, with 30 years experience. I was glad to see that Montanans Against Assisted Suicide has decided to appeal its case with the Montana Medical Examiner Board to the Montana Supreme Court. My hope is that the appeal will end the controversy about assisted suicide possibly being legal in Montana.

My concerns about legalizing assisted suicide include that it will encourage “lazy doctoring.” I say this because it is easier for a doctor to write a prescription (to end the patient’s life,) as opposed to doing the sometimes hard work of figuring out what is wrong with a patient and providing treatment. I am also concerned that legalization will give bad doctors the opportunity to hide malpractice by convincing a patient to take his or her life.

The American Medical Association, Ethics Opinion No. 2.211, states: “Physician-assisted suicide is fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious societal risks.”

I agree with this statement. Allowing legalization of physician-assisted suicide in Montana will compromise and corrupt my profession. Legalization will also put the lives and well-being of my patients at risk.

Carley C. Robertson, MD
Havre MT

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Supreme Court must decide suicide issue


I have been following the assisted suicide issue closely for the previous several years. I am happy to see that Montanans Against Assisted Suicide is appealing its court case to the Montana Supreme Court. In the past two legislative sessions there have been bills brought before the House and the Senate for and against legalizing assisted suicide. Compassion and Choices [the former Hemlock Society] claims that assisted suicide is already legal in the state (it is not). That false rhetoric has carried to other news mediums, out-of-state legislative bodies and the general public . . . .

We need clarification on this issue once and for all. The Montana Medical Board of Examiners conduct in adopting their position paper, implying that assisted suicide is legal, was a dreadful overstep of its authority, complicated by failing to give public notice regarding the issue.  [See MAAS petition here]

This issue will not go away until the Supreme Court undoes the mess it made with Baxter and resolves the issue by reversing the Baxter decision. The medical profession still has the respect of society. We must not allow that respect to be destroyed by putting this kind of power in the hands of doctors. Doctors can be wrong, yet the doctor is the one who ultimately will decide whether that patient is ready to die or not. This will change medical practice as we know it forever; the trust factor between patient and doctor will be destroyed.

Dr. David W. Hafer
Dayton, MT

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

MAAS Appeals Medical Examiner Board Lawsuit

FOR: IMMEDIATE RELEASE, February 11, 2014
FROM: MONTANANS AGAINST ASSISTED SUICIDE (MAAS)
CONTACT: MARGARET DORE, ATTORNEY FOR MAAS, 406 662 1217

For a print copy of this release, please click here.

Montanans Against Assisted Suicide (MAAS) appeals Montana Medical Board lawsuit  MAAS seeks permanent removal of a position statement that wrongly implies that assisted suicide is legal in Montana; appeal will also allow MAAS to continue its ongoing challenge to Montana's assisted suicide case, Baxter v. State.

(Helena, Mont.) Montanans Against Assisted Suicide (MAAS) is appealing the dismissal of a lawsuit against the Montana Board of Medical Examiners as part of an ongoing campaign to prevent the legalization of assisted suicide in Montana. The lawsuit was dismissed after the Board voluntarily discarded a position statement implying that assisted suicide "may" be legal in Montana. Without MAAS's appeal, there would be nothing to stop the Board from re-issuing a similar statement in the future.

"The only reason the Board of Medical Examiners abandoned their position paper was to get rid of our lawsuit," said Margaret Dore, Attorney for MAAS. "That's not good enough. They're just going to come back again with a new angle in the future that they hope will get around the legislature.  The position paper was a significant 'toe in the door' to the attempted backdoor legalization of assisted suicide in Montana.  The Board will attempt to do it again using another angle."

Appeal will also allow MAAS to continue its ongoing challenge to the decision in Baxter v. State, which suicide proponents claim legalized assisted suicide in Montana. A MTN News article describes the situation, as follows:

[The] position paper - in response to the lawsuit - has since been rescinded by the Board and scrubbed from its website. But [MAAS's attorney, Margaret] Dore said court action was still needed to prevent the Board from reinstating such a position.

She repeatedly asked District Judge Mike Menahan to weigh in on a Montana Supreme Court ruling known as Baxter, that envisions potential defenses to doctors charged with homicide for assisting with suicide.*
Problems with legalizing assisted suicide include that it encourages people with years to live, to throw away their lives. Legalization also creates new opportunities for elder abuse, for example, when there is an inheritance involved. In Oregon, legalization has enabled that state's health plan (Medicaid) to offer the "treatment" of suicide in lieu of desired treatments (to improve the quality of life, to extend life or to cure).**

For Bradley Williams, President of MAAS, preventing assisted suicide legalization is up front and personal. He says, "I'm 64 years old. I don't want a doctor or anyone else telling me or my wife that we should go kill ourselves."

MAAS is a single issue group that welcome everyone opposed to assisted-suicide regardless of their views on other issues. In 2013, MAAS and its allies easily defeated Senate Bill 220, which had sought to legalize assisted suicide in Montana.  MAAS's own bill, HB 505, which had sought to reverse Baxter's holding and give prosecutors a lower sentencing option, passed the House, but was defeated by four votes in the Senate before it was tabled.

Please consider a generous donation to keep our lawsuit alive.  To donate, please click here.

* To view a copy of the MTV News article, go here:  http://www.kxlf.com/news/montana-judge-hears-assisted-suicide-arguments/

** To view a copy of "Quick Facts Against Assisted Suicide," go here:  http://www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/p/quick-facts-about-assisted-suicide.html

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