Friday, October 26, 2012

Citizens Group Challenges BOME Statement on Assisted Suicide

Montana Medical Association Bulletin, Fall 2012.  To see print copy, click here.

Montanans Against Assisted Suicide (MAAS) is a grassroots citizens’ group opposed to physician-assisted suicide.  
The American Medical Association (AMA) defines physician-assisted suicide as occurring when a physician “facilitates a patient’s death by providing the necessary means and/or information to enable the patient to perform the life-ending act (e.g., a physician provides sleeping pills and information about the lethal dose, while aware that the patient may commit suicide)." (AMA Code of Medical Ethics, Opinion 2.211).  The AMA opposes legalization.  The AMA’s reasons include that legalization “would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious societal risks.” (Id.) 

Our reasons for opposition to physician-assisted suicide include that legalization is a recipe for elder abuse, for example, by an adult child wanting an inheritance who suggests, encourages or coerces his father to request and then take the lethal dose.  In Oregon, other suicides have increased with legalization of physician-assisted suicide.

With this context, MAAS is now engaged in a dual track legal challenge against the Montana Board of Medical Examiners’ Position Statement No. 20, which erroneously implies that assisted suicide is legal in Montana.  In August, we filed a petition for relief in state court.  We have also filed a formal petition with the Board requesting that it declare Position Statement No. 20 invalid.  In the alternative, we have asked that Position Statement No. 20 be repealed.  To learn more, please see our website,

Bradley Williams is the Coordinator for Montanans Against Assisted Suicide.  He can be reached at

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Additional information:  The state court petition filed on August 27, 2012 can be viewed here.  The formal petition to the Montana Board of Medical Examiners, mailed to the Board on September 26, 2012, can be viewed here.  The amended state court petition, filed on October 12, 2012, can be viewed here; the attachments to that petition can be viewed here.