Saturday, October 15, 2011

Compassion & Choices of WA Embraces Derek Humphry

Just in from Washington State:

Compassion & Choices of Washington has announced that Derek Humphry will be the keynote speaker at its 2011 annual meeting.[1]

Derek Humphry has recently been in the news as a promoter of suicide kits from a company now shut down by the FBI.  According to an article in Oregon's Register-Guard newspaper:
"A spotlight was cast on the mail-order suicide kit business after a 29-year-old Eugene man committed suicide in December using a helium hood kit. The Register-Guard traced the $60 kit to [the company, which] has no website and does no advertising; clients find [the] address through the writings of Humphry."[2]
With the choice of Humphry as its keynote speaker, Compassion & Choices shows its true colors?
* * *
[1]  See current newsletter for Compassion & Choices of Washington, stating :  "Derek Humphry to be Keynote Speaker at 2011 Annual Meeting."  To view the newsletter, go to the following link and scroll down to the lower half of the page:
[2]  See e.g., Jack Moran, "Police kick in door in confusion over suicide kit:  The FBI message to police about the purchase of the gear failed to mention it was bought seven months ago, "  The Register-Guard, September 21, 2011.

Bradley Williams Published "Legally Bound"

By Bradley D. Williams on October 14, 2011

I am the coordinator of Montanans Against Assisted Suicide & For Living with Dignity. I disagree with Alex Yahanda that assisted suicide is legal in Montana (“The grateful dead,” Oct. 13). A bill that would have legalized assisted suicide in Montana was defeated this last legislative session. Legal assisted suicide is, regardless, a recipe for abuse.

Montana has been targeted for legalization by the Denver-based suicide promotion organization Compassion & Choices, formerly known as the Hemlock Society. In 2007, Compassion & Choices initiated litigation which ultimately resulted in the Baxter decision issued on December 31, 2009. Baxter gives doctors, and only doctors, a potential defense to criminal prosecution for causing or assisting a suicide. Assisted suicide is not “legalized” by giving doctors or anyone else criminal or civil immunity.

In 2011, Compassion & Choices tried again, by backing a bill in our legislature. This bill, SB 167, would have legalized assisted suicide in Montana, but failed.
During a debate on SB 167, its sponsor State Senator Anders Blewett, a lawyer, conceded that the Baxter decision allows a doctor to be prosecuted for assisting a suicide. He said: “[U]nder the current law … there’s nothing to protect the doctor from prosecution.” Similar statements were made by others. For example, Dr. Stephen Speckart testified that “most physicians feel significant dis-ease with the limited safeguards and possible risk of criminal prosecution after the Baxter decision.”
To view transcript excerpts, go to

Legal assisted suicide is a recipe for elder abuse. For example, according to the legalization bill proposed by Compassion & Choices, there would be no witnesses required at the death. Without disinterested witnesses, an opportunity would be created for an heir or someone else who would benefit from the death to administer the lethal dose to the patient without his consent. Even if he struggled, who would know?

Other problems with assisted suicide are discussed in our talking points. These problems include the “Barbara Wagner” scenario in which patients can be steered to suicide by health care providers. For Wagner, this included a government health plan. Other problems are suicide contagion and the pesky issue that people targeted through these laws are not necessarily dying any time soon.

To view our talking points, please go to

Bradley D. Williams

Coordinator, Montanans Against Assisted Suicide
& For Living with Dignity

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Bradley Williams Objects to Attempted Back Door Legalization of Assisted Suicide

With assisted suicide not legal in Montana, Denver-based Compassion & Choices has been resorting to back door methods to try and obtain legalization.  Just last week, Compassion & Choices doctor, Stephen Speckart, wrote a letter to the Montana Board of Medical Examiners in one such attempt.  Bradley Williams' objection below with a link to Speckart's letter below that:

October 5, 2011

Ian Marquand
Executive Director
MT Board of Medical Examiners
(406) 841-2360

Re:     Speckart Request Must be Denied Because Assisted Suicide is Not Legal Under Baxter
Dear Mr. Marquand and Members of the Board:

        I am the Coordinator of Montanans Against Assisted Suicide & For Living with Dignity.  This E-mail responds to Dr. Speckart’s letter claiming that assisted suicide is legal under Baxter and requesting that the Board declare assisted suicide a medical treatment.

        Dr. Speckart’s claim that assisted suicide is legal is untrue.  Please see the written opinions of attorneys Greg Jackson, Matt Bowman and Margaret Dore described and linked below.  Dr. Speckart’s claim is also counter to his own testimony during the 2011 legislative session.  A transcript of that testimony is also described and linked below.

        With assisted suicide not legal, the Board has no basis on which to recognize assisted suicide as a medical treatment.

A.  Greg Jackson and Matt Bowman

        As you may know, Greg Jackson is one of Montana’s most accomplished defense attorneys.  He's handled over 20 homicide cases, and 14 homicide trials, including such high profile cases as the Montana prison riot (5 homicides) and the trial of Nathaniel Bar Jonah.  His analysis of Baxter with attorney Matt Bowman concludes:
"The Montana Supreme Court's assisted suicide decision ... didn't even 'legalize' assisted suicide ... After Baxter, assisted suicide continues to carry both criminal and civil liability risks for any doctor, institution, or lay person involved."
        To view their entire analysis, go here:

B.  Margaret Dore

         Margaret Dore is an attorney in Washington State where assisted suicide is legal.  She is also President of Choice is an Illusion, a nonprofit corporation opposed to assisted suicide.  ( She was an amicus curie in the Baxter litigation.  She is a former Law Clerk to the Washington State Supreme Court where she clerked for then Chief Justice Vernon Pearson.  Her analysis states:
“Baxter gives doctors who assist a suicide a potential defense to criminal prosecution. Baxter does not legalize assisted suicide by giving doctors or anyone else immunity from criminal and civil liability. Under Baxter, a doctor cannot be assured that a particular suicide will qualify for the defense.
        To view her entire analysis, go here:

        C.      Dr. Speckart

        During the 2011 Legislative session, Dr. Speckhart testified in support of SB 167, which had sought to legalize assisted suicide in Montana.  He stated: "Most physicians feel significant dis-ease with the limited safeguards and possible risk of criminal prosecution after the Baxter decision." (Emphasis added).

        Senator Anders Blewett, a lawyer, had made a similar statement:  "Under the current law [Baxter] ... there's nothing to protect the doctor from prosecution."

        To view a transcript of their statements, please go here:

        D.  Conclusion

         Assisted suicide is not legal in Montana.  A doctor who engages in this practice is subject to criminal and civil liability, and professional discipline.  Assisted suicide is not a medical treatment.

Bradley D. Williams
Montanans Against Assisted Suicide &
For Living with Dignity 610 North 1st St., Suite 5, PMB 285
Hamilton, MT 59840
(406) 531-0937 

To view Dr. Speckart's letter, go here: