Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Bradley Williams: Setting the Record Straight

Bradley Williams' Letter to the Missoula Independent:

I was appalled to see Skyler Brownings's uncritical posting of Barbara Coombs Lee's propaganda piece about assisted suicide in Montana. ["Montana leads the way in end-of-life choice"]. Coombs Lee is the President of Denver-based Compassion & Choices, formerly known as the Hemlock Society.

First, to be clear, assisted suicide is not legal in Montana. The Montana Supreme Court Baxter decision merely gave doctors a potential defense to prosecution for homicide. This defense is not guaranteed. Baxter did not address, let alone reverse prior caselaw allowing doctors and others to be sued for causing or failing to prevent a suicide. Montana attorney Greg Jackson, with attorney Matt Bowman, states: "After Baxter, assisted suicide continues to carry both criminal and civil liability risks for any doctor, institution, or lay person involved."

Second, legalization is a recipe for elder abuse. Legalization would allow heirs and others who will benefit financially from an older person's death to legally pressure and abuse that person to end his or her life. This is contrary to Montana official public policy to prevent elder abuse.

Third, legalization will empower healthcare providers, including the government, to steer individuals to suicide. This has happened in Oregon where assisted suicide is legal. The most well known cases involve Barbara Wagner and Randy Stroup. Each wanted treatment. The Oregon Health Plan offered them coverage for suicide instead. See e.g. Susan Donaldson James, "Death Drugs Cause Uproar in Oregon," ABC News, August 6, 2008 at  Montana does not need
the "Oregon experience."

For factual information about assisted suicide, please visit our website at Please sign our petition! Donations are appreciated!

Bradley D. Williams
Montanans Against Assisted Suicide
& For Living with Dignity
610 North First St, Ste 5-285
Hamilton, MT 59840
406 531 0937