Sunday, December 15, 2013

MAAS Will Appeal

On December 13, 2013, District Court Judge Mike Menehan dismissed MAAS's appeal with the Montana Medical Examiners Board. The order ruled that the appeal was moot due to the Board's having recently rescinded "Position Statement No. 20."  (Order, pp. 5-8).  The order also refers to Montana's assisted suicide case, Baxter v. State, as providing a defense to a homicide charge, as follows:
On December 31, 2009, the Montana Supreme Court issued its opinion in Baxter v. State, 2009 MT 449, 354 Mont. 234, 224 P.3d 1211, in which it held that under section 45-2-211 MCA, a terminally ill patient's consent to physician aid in dying constitutes a statutory defense to a physician charged with the criminal offense of homicide.  (Order, page 2, lines 17-21).
This part of the order is consistent with Greg Jackson's and Matt Bowman's article, Baxter Case Analysis, Spring 2010 ("the Court's narrow decision didn't even "legalize" assisted suicide"). Available at http://www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/p/baxter-case-analysis.html

Since Baxter, there have been two bills proposed in the Montana Legislature to legalize assisted suicide.  Both bills, SB 167 and SB 220, have failed.  Assisted suicide is not legal in Montana.


MAAS is disappointed with the dismissal, but pleased with that the order addresses Baxter, over which there is ongoing controversy as to its meaning..  MAAS will appeal.

* * *

For information about problems with assisted suicide and how it puts people at risk, see http://www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/p/quick-facts-about-assisted-suicide.html 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Judge Hears Assisted Suicide Arguments

http://www.kxlf.com/news/montana-judge-hears-assisted-suicide-arguments/

Posted: Dec 11, 2013 4:38 PM by Sanjay Talwani - MTN News

HELENA - The issue of physician assisted suicide was in court Tuesday [December 10, 2013]
Judge Michael Menehan
Montanans Against Assisted Suicide is arguing that a policy position by the Montana Board of Medical Examiners implies that physician assisted suicide may be legal. 
A lawyer for the Board says that the position - since rescinded, says no such thing. Michael Fanning says the group bringing the lawsuit has no real case is trying to force the issue to the Montana Supreme Court.
The position paper, written in response to doctor inquiries, said that the board would handle complaints related to assisted suicide on a case-by-case basis as it would other cases.
Margaret Dore
Attorney for Montanans
Against Assisted Suicide (MAAS)
Margaret Dore, an attorney for MAAS, said the paper overstepped the Board's authority and implied to many that assisted suicide was legal in Montana.
"They are a board that is comprised of 11 doctors and two members of the public," she said. "It has no expertise to be making a pronouncement, that aid in dying is legal in Montana. That's the role of the legislature or a court and they are neither."
She said that such an understanding had huge implications in devaluing the lives of the sick and elderly.
That position paper - in response to the lawsuit - has since been rescinded by the Board and scrubbed from its website. But 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.
But Menehan said it wasn't the role of a district judge to rule on a Montana Supreme Court order.
Craig Charlton
Attorney for MAAS
Michael Fanning, an attorney for the Board, said MAAS had no standing to bring the lawsuit, has suffered no damages from the Board's rescinded position and was simply jockeying to get the case before the Montana Supreme Court in hopes of overturning the Baxter ruling.
"This most certainly is a political question, a philosophical question or an academic debate, but it is not a lawsuit," he said. "In fact, this is a feigned case. It was contrived simply to bring this matter before you."
Menahan did not immediately rule on the case.
[Montanans Against Assisted Suicide (MAAS) is also represented by attorney Craig Charlton.  Bradley Williams is President of MAAS].

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Physician-Assisted Suicide: Lawsuit will keep practice illegal

http://missoulian.com/news/opinion/mailbag/physician-assisted-suicide-lawsuit-would-keep-practice-illegal/article_0b601f5e-1635-11e3-8eb2-0019bb2963f4.html

I am the president of Montanans Against Assisted Suicide. Robert Minto’s letter regarding our lawsuit against the Board of Medical Examiners was ill-informed. First, assisted suicide is not legal in Montana. Second, the goal of our lawsuit is to keep it that way.

Our reasons for opposing legalization include: it will encourage people with years to live to throw away their lives; it will create new paths of elder abuse; and it will empower government health plans and other insurers to offer suicide as a “treatment” in lieu of desired traditional treatments (to cure, to improve the quality of life and/or to extend life). See: http://bit.ly/14ZUJfz.

Minto’s letter implies that assisted suicide is legal under the Baxter decision. That decision, however, merely gives a potential defense to a homicide charge.

Bills to legalize assisted suicide have been defeated in the past two legislative sessions. In 2013, a bill that would have legalized assisted suicide, Senate Bill 220, did not even get out of committee. In 2011, a similar bill, SB167, also died in committee.

During a hearing on SB167, the sponsor Sen. Anders Blewett made statements on the record conceding that assisted suicide was not legal then, and with the failure of the above bills, it’s not legal now. For example, he said: “under the current law ... there’s nothing to protect the doctor from prosecution.” Dr. Stephen Speckart, a plaintiff in Baxter, made a similar statement, as follows: “most physicians feel significant dis-ease with the limited safeguards and possible risk of criminal prosecution after the Baxter decision.”
To view transcript excerpts, please go to http://bit.ly/15EOppu.

With our lawsuit to prevent legalization, we are incurring attorneys fees and other expenses. To donate, please go here: www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/p/donate.html.

Bradley D. Williams, president, Montanans Against Assisted Suicide, Hamilton

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Great Falls Event a Great Success!

MAAS's Great Falls event at the Hilton Garden Inn on June 29, 2013 was a great success!  Keynote speaker Alex Schadenberg provided good humor and shared his wealth of knowledge of the international situation on assisted suicide.

Washington State Attorney, Margaret Dore, provided extensive course materials, which can be viewed by clicking here.  Attorneys were provided 1.0 CLE credit.

Feedback comments included: "I was very moved by the personal stories of the presenters" and "Carol Mungas, Carley Robertson, very powerful personal testimonies."  To view other comments, please click here.

To view the event flyer, click here.  To sponsor a similar event in your community, please click here.

Donations to MAAS are greatly appreciated.  To donate, please click here.

Thank you!

MAAS




Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Assisted Suicide Laws Can Lead to Murder

http://www.havredailynews.com/story/2013/06/20/opinion/assisted-suicide-laws-can-lead-to-murder/576.html

I am the President of Montanans Against Assisted Suicide. Thank you for your Associated Press article about our lawsuit against the Board of Medical Examiners. We are awaiting the results of the court hearing. [We won!, click here]

I would like to alert your readers to our upcoming event "Assisted-Suicide: Whose Choice?" The title refers to the reality of assisted suicide legalization in which the choice of whether someone dies can be determined by someone other than the patient.  Consider this observation by Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, who will be our keynote speaker. He states:
A 2009 report by MetLife Mature Market Institute describes elder financial abuse as a crime "growing in intensity." The perpetrators are often family members, some of whom feel themselves "entitled" to the elder's assets. The report states that they start out with small crimes, such as stealing jewelry and blank checks, before moving on to larger items or coercing elders to sign over the deeds to their homes, change their wills or liquidate their assets.  The report also states that victims "may even be murdered" by perpetrators.

With assisted-suicide laws in Washington and Oregon, perpetrators can instead take a "legal" route, by getting an elder to sign a lethal dose request. Once the prescription is filled, there is no supervision over administration ... even if a patient struggled, "who would know?" 
Our event will be Saturday, June 29, at the Great Falls Hilton Garden Inn.  For more information, click here or call 406-531-0937.

Bradley Williams
Hamilton

Monday, June 24, 2013

MAAS Wins First Round in Board Lawsuit!

Montanans Against Assisted Suicide (MAAS) has been engaged in an ongoing dispute with the Montana Board of Medical Examiners regarding the validity of "Position Statement No. 20."  The statement wrongfully implies that assisted suicide is legal in Montana.

On December 17, 2012, MAAS brought suit against the Board in Lewis and Clark County seeking judicial review, declaratory judgment and other relief.  A copy of MAAS's petition can be viewed by clicking here.  Attachments to that petition can be viewed by clicking here and here.

On June 5, 2013, the Board moved to limit the record on review to just two documents.  MAAS responded by arguing that the record included the Board's entire record on Position Statement No. 20, beginning in September 2011 and ending on November 16, 2012.  On June 20, 2013, Judge Mike Menahan agreed.  A copy of his order can be viewed here.

Please consider a making a generous donation to keep legal assisted suicide and euthanasia out of Montana.  $10 or  $10,000, it all helps.  To donate, please click here.

THANK YOU!

For more information, please contact Bradley Williams at 406 531 0937 or  bradley@montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org

Thank you!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Beware of Vultures: Senator Jennifer Fielder on Compassion & Choices

"[I]t seems odd that the top lobby spender in Montana this year was Compassion and Choices, a 'nonprofit' group that spent $160,356 advocating for legalization of assisted suicide."
By Senator Jennifer Fielder

As we wrangled through the budget this spring, the beautiful state capitol began to feel like a big, ripe carcass with a dark cloud of vultures circling about.  
Senator Jennifer Fielder

The magnitude of money in government attracts far more folks who want to be on the receiving end than it does those who just want fair and functional government. Until that ratio improves, it may be impossible to rein in unnecessary regulation and spending. 

Special interest groups spent over $6 million dollars on lobbyists to pressure Montana legislators during the 2013 session. Seems like a lot of money, until you compare it to the billions of taxpayer dollars at stake. Does the average taxpayer stand a chance against organized forces like that?

Assisted suicide: Senate bill was defeated

http://www.ravallirepublic.com/news/opinion/mailbag/article_f38cc835-638d-59c1-bd88-880c1cb3c1c8.html 

June 09, 2013 9:45 am

I was appalled to read Charles Johnson’s article implying that assisted suicide is legal in Montana. To the contrary, Senate Bill 220, which had sought to legalize assisted-suicide, was defeated in committee during the 2013 legislative session. The bill was tabled, nine votes to three. See www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/p/sb-220-tabled.html.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Great Falls Event Saturday June 29th!

Join us for an interesting and provocative afternoon.  For a print flyer, please click here.

Title:  "Assisted Suicide:  Whose Choice?"
Date: Saturday, June 29, 2013
Registration:  Noon 
Program:  1 to 4pm 
Reception:  informal discussions/reception to follow
Where:  Hilton Garden Inn, 2520 14th St. SW, Great Falls, MT.
Cost/RSVP:  No cost or rsvp required. 
More Information:  Contact Bradley Williams at Bradley@MontanansAgainstAssistedSuicide.org or by phone at 406 531 0937. 
Continuing Legal Education:  For lawyers, 1.0 CLE credit pending for the Dore/Tummarello presentation.  See below.

Keynote Speaker:

Alex Schadenberg
Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition and Chair of the Euthanasia Coalition International, based in Ontario, Canada.  These organizations are a barrier to the legalization of assisted suicide/euthanasia worldwide.  Mr. Schadenberg is a recognized expert on assisted suicide and euthanasia.  He is an exciting and engaging speaker.  His topic:  "Legal Assisted Suicide - A Threat to Public Safety."

Other Speakers:

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.  Her topic:  "Assisted Suicide, A Legal Perspective - What does Baxter mean?  Is Baxter Wrong?"  

Philip Tummarello is a Retired Police Sergeant Inspector, now living in Stevensville, MT.  His topic:  "Assisted Suicide:  A Law Enforcement Perspective." 

Carol Mungas is the widow of James E. Mungas, a prominent Great Falls physician.  To see his story, click here.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Fight Over Assisted Suicide Moves Back to Court

http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/montana/fight-over-assisted-suicide-moves-back-to-court/article_7985baad-87a0-592a-b6dd-187073a4c47f.html?print=true&cid=print

Matt Gouras, Associated Press
May 8, 2013

HELENA — The fight over physician-assisted suicide in Montana is moving back to the courtroom after the Legislature failed this session to clarify that the practice is specifically legal or illegal.

Montanans Against Assisted Suicide is trying to strike the state Board of Medical Examiners' policy that guides doctors in the matter.

A Helena judge has scheduled oral arguments for next month in the case. The lawsuit was filed in December.    Since then, the Montana Legislature failed in efforts to either clarify that the practice is specifically legal or illegal. It was the second straight session where lawmakers couldn't agree on which direction to take the state.

[To view the lawsuit's petition and attachments, click here , here and here]

Individuals and Groups Who Worked with MAAS in the 2013 Legislative Session


The following is a sampling of individuals and groups who worked with Montanans Against Assisted Suicide during the 2013 legislative session:

1.  112 Montana doctors who joined together to support HB 505.  See this link for their press release:  http://www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/2013/03/112-montana-physicians-who-support-hb.html

2.  The national disability rights group, Not Dead Yet, with members in Montana, endorsed HB 505.  See http://www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/2013/03/not-dead-yet-supports-hb-505.html

3.  Carol Mungas, the widow of a prominent physician who was euthanized by nurses against his will in Great Falls, endorsed HB 505.  See http://www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/2013/03/i-support-house-bill-505-which-clearly.html

We're Doing some Summer Cleaning - Please excuse the mess

If the site "looks funny," we're doing updates on the site.

It will be back to normal soon.

Thanks so much!


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Fight Over Assisted Suicide Moves Back to Court

http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/montana/fight-over-assisted-suicide-moves-back-to-court/article_7985baad-87a0-592a-b6dd-187073a4c47f.html?print=true&cid=print

Matt Gouras, AP

HELENA — The fight over physician-assisted suicide in Montana is moving back to the courtroom after the Legislature failed this session to clarify that the practice is specifically legal or illegal.

Montanans Against Assisted Suicide is trying to strike the state Board of Medical Examiners' policy that guides doctors in the matter.

A Helena judge has scheduled oral arguments for next month in the case. The lawsuit was filed in December.    Since then, the Montana Legislature failed in efforts to either clarify that the practice is specifically legal or illegal. It was the second straight session where lawmakers couldn't agree on which direction to take the state.

[To view the lawsuit's petition and attachments, click here , here and here]

Friday, May 3, 2013

Assisted suicide is still not legal

http://missoulian.com/news/opinion/mailbag/dignity-in-death-assisted-suicide-is-still-not-legal/article_1e19a630-b332-11e2-8c96-0019bb2963f4.html

May 2, 2013

I disagree that the defeat of House Bill 505 somehow renders assisted suicide legal under the Montana Supreme Court case, Baxter v. State. (“Montana Senate rejects doctor-assisted suicide bill”).

In the 2011 legislative session, Sen. Anders Blewett and I introduced competing bills in response to Baxter, which did not legalize assisted suicide. Baxter does, however, have toe-in-the-door type language, which invites legalization in the future. Neither bill passed. His bill had sought to legalize assisted suicide; mine had sought to reverse Baxter.

During the hearing on Blewett’s bill, he conceded that assisted suicide was not legal under Baxter. He said: “under the current law ... there’s nothing to protect the doctor from prosecution.” Dr. Stephen Speckart provided similar testimony: “most physicians feel significant dis-ease with the limited safeguards and possible risk of criminal prosecution after the Baxter decision.” (To view a transcript, see http://maasdocuments.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/blewett_speckhart_trans_001.pdf .)
This session, there was a similar situation. SB220, which had sought to legalize assisted suicide, was defeated. HB505, which would have reversed Baxter, was also defeated.

In other words, Baxter, which did not legalize assisted suicide, remains the law. Assisted suicide is not legal in Montana. For more information, see www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/p/baxter-case-analysis.html .

Greg Hinkle,
Senator (ret.)
Thompson Falls

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Assisted Suicide is Not Legal in Montana

Below, is a letter by attorney Craig Charlton.  For a print copy, click here.

Dear Physician:  

I represent Montanans Against Assisted Suicide & For Living with Dignity.  You may have received a letter from Compassion & Choices, formerly known as the  Hemlock Society, dated June 5, 2012.  The letter claims that assisted suicide, referred to as "aid in dying," is legal under the Baxter decision issued by the Montana Supreme Court on December 31, 2009.  This is untrue.  I urge you to read the materials below or contact your own counsel for advice regarding the court's decision in Baxter.

The letter states: “Physicians [under Baxter] can provide prescriptions to such patients without fear that doing so could give rise to criminal or disciplinary sanction."  This statement is contrary to Baxter, which merely gives doctors a defense to prosecution.  Baxter states:

"We therefore hold that under § 45-2-211, MCA, a terminally ill patient's consent to physician aid in dying constitutes a statutory defense to a charge of homicide against the aiding physician when no other consent exceptions apply."

You may also be interested in this analysis of Baxter by attorneys Greg Jackson and Matt Bowman: 

"[T]he Court's narrow 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."[1]

Please note that the "aid in dying" letter omits any discussion of a doctor’s potential civil liability for wrongful death and/or malpractice.  Baxter did not overrule Montana case law imposing civil liability on doctors who cause or fail to prevent a suicide.  See Krieg v. Massey, 239 Mont. 469, 472-3 (1989) and Nelson v. Driscoll, 295 Mont. 363, Para 32-33 (1999).  Other cases include Edwards v. Tardif, 240 Conn. 610, 692 A.2d 1266 (1997) (affirming a civil judgment against a physician who had prescribed an ”excessively large dosage” of barbiturates to a suicidal patient who then killed herself with the barbiturates). 

For another example, see William Dotinga, “Grim Complaint Against Kaiser Hospital,” at http ://www.courthousenews.com/2012/02/06/43641.htm   This case is relevant to Baxter given that patient consent is the linchpin to  Baxter's defense to prosecution.  Moreover, even if a doctor avoids prosecution, there is civil liability. 

Finally, the letter also omits that the Montana Medical Board’s position statement is subject to ongoing challenge by my client.  I encourage you to review the information submitted to the Board on this issue and the information found at my client's website describing why legalization of assisted suicide would be a recipe for elder abuse.  See http://www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/2012/03/medical-examiner-board-statement-is.html
Please contact me with any questions or concerns.  

Yours truly,

/s/

By:  Craig D. Charlton

[1]  “Analysis of Implications of the Baxter Case on Potential Criminal Liability,” Spring 2010, at 
http://www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/p/baxter-case-analysis.html

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

"If [Kress] is convicted, it will be under Baxter, not HB505."

http://missoulian.com/news/opinion/mailbag/physician-assisted-suicide-bill-will-not-be-retroactive/article_754b842a-adb8-11e2-b78b-0019bb2963f4.html

Physician-assisted suicide:  Bill will not be retroactive


Dr. Eric Kress, who claims to have assisted three suicides, is either uniformed or disingenuous about the legality of assisted suicide as described in his guest column (April 7). The present law, as taken from the Baxter case, is that under certain circumstances a physician who assisted someone to kill himself has a defense to a charge of homicide. If the doctor is charged with homicide and convinces a jury of certain facts, he will not be convicted.
Kress claims instead that his conduct will be judged under House Bill 505, which if enacted, will clarify the law of assisted suicide in the future. HB505 is not retroactive and will not apply to Kress and his three cases. If he is convicted, it will be under Baxter, not HB505.
I started out thinking that I was for legalizing physician-assisted suicide and moved to the other side after listening to the evidence. Legalizing physician-assisted suicide will lead to elder abuse. I support HB505, which clearly prohibits physician-assisted suicide.
Jim Shockley, Attorney at Law, 
Victor MT

Saturday, April 27, 2013

MD responds to doctor's opinion piece supporting physician-assisted suicide

http://www.ravallirepublic.com/news/opinion/mailbag/article_b83d6983-15cf-5aac-91ac-877c6e4d2eee.html?print=true&cid=print


April 26, 2013 12:16 pm  

I am a general medical practitioner with 30 years’ experience. I work in emergency medicine, with nursing home residents and with incarcerated persons. I have two issues with Dr. Eric Kress's (April 7) opinion describing his assistance of three suicides. First, since when did assisted suicide become legal? Second, I have concerns about the cases he describes.

Kress claims that his patients were not depressed. His description of one of those patients, however, suggests otherwise. Someone who is "often … found weeping and bemoaning the miserable fated that had befallen him" sounds depressed and unrecognized and untreated. And, someone who is "experiencing increasing pain in his chest…" may have needed different medications. There is essentially no pain that cannot be treated, though a secondary effect may be to hasten death. I do not know the medical facts of these cases; I do know that there were other options than committing suicide, whether or not they were explored.

Doctors’ diagnoses can also be wrong. I have seen patients in my own practice live longer than expected. With this situation, patients participating in medical suicides can be throwing away their lives. I have also seen suicidal people get better, and rebuild lives that looked pretty grim. I do not agree that doctors or anyone else should be assisting other people to commit suicide.

Carley C. Robertson, MD,
Havre

Oregon resident would not be alive today if she had used physician-assisted suicide

http://www.ravallirepublic.com/news/opinion/mailbag/article_5e415659-29c8-5891-9ea1-bb63834c6435.html

April 26, 2013 6:15 am 



This letter responds to the (April 7) guest column by Dr. Eric Kress promoting assisted suicide. If Kress had been my doctor in 2000, I would be dead.

I live in Oregon, where physician-assisted suicide is legal. In 2000, I was diagnosed with cancer and told that I had six months to a year to live. I knew that our law had passed, but I didn’t know exactly how to go about doing it. I tried to ask my doctor, but he didn’t really answer me.

I did not want to suffer. I wanted to do our law and I wanted my doctor to help me. Instead, he encouraged me to not give up and ultimately I decided to fight. I had both chemotherapy and radiation. It is now 12 years later. I am so happy to be alive!

Last month, doctors in Montana contacted me to let them use my story to promote House Bill 505, which is a bill to prevent assisted suicide in Montana. This is a link to their recent press release: www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/2013/03/112-montana-physicians-who-support-hb.html.

Vote “yes” on HB505.

Don’t make Oregon’s mistake.

Jeanette Hall,
King City, Ore.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Assisted Suicide: Abuse cannot be controlled


http://www.ravallirepublic.com/news/opinion/mailbag/article_c04a6c33-f4ba-5080-89a9-471e28305e4a.html

This letter responds to the Associated Press article regarding the April 15 floor vote on House Bill 505, which failed to pass by a four-vote margin, 27-23. We are disappointed but are continuing our efforts to prevent assisted suicide legalization in Montana.

The AP article implies that assisted suicide is legal now, which is not the case. The Montana Supreme Court case, Baxter v. Montana, merely gives assisting doctors a potential defense to prosecution for homicide. The case offers no protection to non-doctors. The case gives no protection to anyone from being sued by angry family members who suddenly find their loved one dead from a lethal prescription. See this article by attorneys Greg Jackson and Matt Bowman at montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/p/baxter-case-analysis.html (“After Baxter, assisted suicide continues to carry both criminal and civil liability risks for any doctor, institution, or lay person involved”).

One reason we oppose legalization is due to the abuse that is already occurring in Montana in which patients are pressured to give up on treatment and/or are given morphine to cause their deaths without their consent. A prominent example is Dr. James Mungas, who was effectively euthanized against his will. To read his story, and other similar stories, please go visit [http://www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/2013/04/dont-give-doctors-more-power-to-abuse.html ]  If the abuse cannot be controlled now, when assisted suicide and euthanasia are not legal, how will it be controlled if these practices are made legal?

Please contact us to join in the fight against assisted suicide. For more information, go to montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org.

Bradley Williams, president, Montanans Against Assisted Suicide, Hamilton

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Assisted Suicide is Not Legal in Montana

This letter responds to the AP article regarding yesterday's floor vote on HB 505, which failed to pass by a four vote margin, 27-23.  We are disappointed but are continuing our efforts to prevent assisted suicide legalization in Montana.

The AP article implies that assisted suicide is legal now, which is not the case.  The Montana Supreme Court case, Baxter v. Montana, merely gives assisting doctors a potential defense to prosecution for homicide.  The case offers no protection to non-doctors.  The case gives no protection to anyone from being sued by angry family members who suddenly find their loved one dead from a lethal prescription.  See this article by attorneys Greg Jackson and Matt Bowman at  http://www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/p/baxter-case-analysis.html ("After Baxter, assisted suicide continues to carry both criminal and civil liability risks for any doctor, institution, or lay person involved").

One reason we oppose legalization is due to the abuse that is already occurring in Montana in which patients are pressured to give up on treatment and/or are given morphine to cause their deaths without their consent.  A prominent example is Dr. James Mungas, who was effectively euthanized against his will.  To read his story, and other similar stories, please go here:  http://www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/2013/04/dont-give-doctors-more-power-to-abuse.html  If the abuse cannot be controlled now, when assisted suicide and euthanasia are not legal, how will it be controlled if these practices are made legal?

Please contact us to join in the fight against assisted-suicide.  For more information, go to www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org

Bradley Williams, President
Montanans Against Assisted Suicide,
A Non-profit Public Benefit Corporation
406 531 0937

Thursday, April 11, 2013

HB 505 IS BLASTED TO THE SENATE FLOOR!!!!!

This afternoon, the Montana Senate blasted HB 505 to the floor in a 31 to 17 Vote!!!!

Thank you to Bradley Williams and everyone else who worked so hard to get us this far!!!!

Please keep up the pressure to tell your Senators to vote "Yes"!

Yeah!!!!!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

HB 505 Fact Sheet (Preventing “Purposely” Assisting Suicide)

By Margaret Dore, Esq,
For a print version, click here

1. What is HB 505?

HB 505 is a short two page bill that will end the confusion over whether physician-assisted suicide is legal in Montana.  The bill does this by clearly stating that physician-assisted suicide is not legal.

2. What is Assisted Suicide? 

Assisted suicide means that someone provides the means and/or information for another person to commit suicide.  When a physician provides the means and/or the information, the term is physician-assisted suicide.  Other involved persons can include family members who assist the suicide, for example, by taking the patient to the doctor.  Such persons do not always have the best interest of the patient at heart.

3. Who Supports HB 505?

HB 505 is supported by 112 Montana physicians who joined together to run supporting ads throughout the state.  HB 505 is also supported by Montanans Against Assisted Suicide, which has submitted 4000 plus signatures against assisted suicide into the Senate Judiciary Committee.  See http://www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/2013/03/support-for-hb-505_3117.html

Monday, April 8, 2013

Don't Give Doctors More Power to Abuse Patient Choice: Vote "Yes" on HB 505


Prepared by Margaret Dore, Esq.
For a print version, click here

1.  Letter from Kate Kelly to the Senate Judiciary Committee, A Response to David “Doc” Moore, March 24, 2013 (“If these terrible deaths happen when aid in dying (assisted suicide and euthanasia) is not legal, what will happen if these practices are made legal? Doctors will have even more power to take away patient choice”).  Letter available at http://www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/2013/03/a-response-to-representative-moore.html

2.  Letter from Mike Moe to the Senate Judiciary Committee, March 23, 2013 (“Please vote for  HB 505 to prevent doctors and nurses from having more power to cause patient deaths. They abuse the power they already have. Please consider my mother’s story . . .”).  Letter available at http://www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/2013/03/vote-for-hb-505-to-stop-bad-situation.html

3.  Letter from Carol Mungas to the Great Falls Tribune, March 14, 2013 (“As illustrated by my husband’s case, doctors and nurses already abuse the power they have.  The stakes are too high to consider expanding their power by legalizing assisted-suicide”).  Letter available at http://www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/2013/03/i-support-house-bill-505-which-clearly.html

4.  Letter from Gail Bell to the Ravalli Republic, March 5, 2013 (“Because of my mother’s experiences, I no longer believe in “physician-assisted suicide.  Support House Bill 505").  Letter available at http://www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/2013/03/because-of-my-mothers-experiences-i-no_8.html


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

"Once in place, this 'trend' is not controllable"

Dear Senators:

For those of you who don't know me, I am an attorney in Washington state where physician-assisted suicide is legal. I am writing to urge you to not make Washington's mistake by allowing assisted suicide/euthanasia to become part of your state's legal fabric.  Once in place, this "trend" is not controllable.  I urge you to vote "Yes" on HB 505 to clearly state that assisted suicide is not legal in Montana.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Support for HB 505

The following is a sampling of individuals and groups who support HB 505.

1.  112 Montana doctors have joined together to support HB 505.  See this link for their press release:  http://www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/2013/03/112-montana-physicians-who-support-hb.html
 
2.  Montanans Against Assisted Suicide has submitted 4000 plus signatures against assisted suicide into the Senate Judiciary Committee.
  

3.  The national disability rights group, Not Dead Yet, with members in Montana, has endorsed HB 505.  See http://www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/2013/03/not-dead-yet-supports-hb-505.html
 
4.  Carol Mungas, the widow of a prominent physician who was euthanized by nurses against his will in Great Falls, has endorsed HB 505.  See http://www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/2013/03/i-support-house-bill-505-which-clearly.html 
 
5.  Montanans, Mike Moe and Gail Bell, with similar experiences, have endorsed HB 505.  See http://www.ravallirepublic.com/news/opinion/mailbag/article_62957251-de74-59bf-9b91-b262b62c3f66.html?print=true&cid=print and http://www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/2013/03/because-of-my-mothers-experiences-i-no_8.html
 
6.  The Daily Inter Lake endorsed HB 505.  See http://www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/2013/03/daily-interlake-urges-passage-of-hb-505.html

Monday, April 1, 2013

Why HB 505 is Needed Now

By Margaret Dore

Last week, a Montana doctor admitted assisting three suicides during a hearing on HB 505.[1]  He claimed that his actions were legal based on the Baxter case.  Baxter did not, however, legalize assisted suicide, which has been conceded by other suicide proponents.[2], [3]  Baxter is, however, subject to ongoing controversy.    

Any counter move to protect the public, such as prosecution of the doctor, will be complicated by the controversy surrounding Baxter.  Moreover, as with any litigation, the outcome is not certain.  For this reason, the doctor's prevailing is a possibility.  If he does prevail, another possibility is that legalization of assisted suicide will occur by judicial fiat.  Whether this actually occurs will depend on the facts, the judge and other circumstances.

On the other hand, if HB 505 is enacted, there will be a clear statement going forward that assisted suicide is not legal.  The negative consequences of legalization, such as elder abuse, will be avoided.

This is why HB 505 is needed now.  To stop the confusion and protect the public.  The stakes are too high to leave the outcome to chance.

Tell your legislators to vote "Yes" on HB 505!
_____
[1] Briana Wipf, "Emotions flow over assisted suicide during Senate hearing," Great Falls Tribune,  March 30, 2013, available at http://www.greatfallstribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2013303260026
[2] See Greg Jackson and Matt Bowman, “Analysis of Implications of the Baxter Case on Potential Criminal Liability,” Spring 2010, at  http://www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/p/baxter-case-analysis.html
[3]  During a Senate hearing in 2011, assisted suicide proponent, Senator Anders Blewett, said:  “[U]nder current law, ... there’s nothing to protect the doctor from prosecution.”  ( http://maasdocuments.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/blewett_speckhart_trans_001.pdf ).  Dr. Stephen Speckart, another proponent, made a similar statement: "[M]ost physicians feel significant dis-ease with the limited safeguards and possible risk of criminal prosecution after the Baxter decision."  (Id. at p.2)

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Support for HB 505

The following is a sampling of individuals and groups who support HB 505.

1.  112 Montana doctors have joined together to support HB 505.  See this link for their press release:  http://www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/2013/03/112-montana-physicians-who-support-hb.html
 
2.  Montanans Against Assisted Suicide has submitted 4000 plus signatures against assisted suicide into the Senate Judiciary Committee.
  
3.  The national disability rights group, Not Dead Yet, with members in Montana, has endorsed HB 505.  See http://www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/2013/03/not-dead-yet-supports-hb-505.html
 
4.  Carol Mungas, the widow of a prominent physician who was euthanized by nurses against his will in Great Falls, has endorsed HB 505.  See http://www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/2013/03/i-support-house-bill-505-which-clearly.html 
 
5.  Montanans, Mike Moe and Gail Bell, with similar experiences, have endorsed HB 505.  See http://www.ravallirepublic.com/news/opinion/mailbag/article_62957251-de74-59bf-9b91-b262b62c3f66.html?print=true&cid=print and http://www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/2013/03/because-of-my-mothers-experiences-i-no_8.html
 
6.  The Daily Inter Lake endorsed HB 505.  See http://www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/2013/03/daily-interlake-urges-passage-of-hb-505.html

Friday, March 29, 2013

Physician-Assisted Suicide Part of Elder Abuse Fraud


On March 26, 2013, Philip Tummarello, a retired police Sergeant Inspector, testified before the Montana Senate Judiciary Committee on on behalf of HB 505.  His testimony included the Thomas Middleton case in which physician-assisted suicide had facilitated the defrauding of an elderly man.  An article from KTVZ.com states: 
"State and court documents show Middleton, who suffered from Lou Gehrig's disease, moved into Sawyer's home in July 2008, months after naming her trustee of his estate, The Bulletin reported Saturday.  Middleton deeded his home to the trust and directed her to make it a rental until the real estate market improved.
Instead, Sawyer signed documents that month to list the property for sale, two days after Middleton died by physician-assisted suicide.  The property sold in October of that year for more than $200,000, the documents show, and it was deposited into an account for one of Sawyer's businesses, Starboard LLC, and $90,000 of that was transferred to two other Sawyer companies, Genesis Futures and Tami Sawyer PC."  (Emphasis added).
 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

"Older people are no longer valued as they were before"

Testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee by Elizabeth Poiana:

I am a  high school student in Washington State where assisted suicide is legal. I want to become a doctor.

My mother is a caregiver.  Sometimes I help her with her clients.

I am here to tell you about how older people are at risk in Washington, from doctors and hospitals. I will also talk about.how attitudes about older people have changed for the worse.  This is especially true since our assisted suicide law was passed in 2008.

I grew up in an adult family home. An adult family home is a small elder care facility located in a residential home.  The caregivers live in the home with the clients.

My parents and two of my brothers lived in the home.  With the clients there, it was like having six grandparents at once.  It was a very happy environment.

This was true for the clients too, no matter what their condition was or how long they had to live. My mom could make them happy even when they were dying. The clients' family members were supportive and seemed happy too and never suggested that one of the clients should die.

Today, in 2013, we no longer live in an adult family home.  My mother is a caregiver for private clients.  She also now fears for her clients, especially in the hospital.   She is afraid that the hospital will begin "comfort care" (that's morphine) and her patient will suddenly die. This has already happened.  She tries to never leave her patients alone in the hospital. Either she or a family member will be there.

She has also had one client where a family member wanted the client to do the assisted suicide.

In short, older people are no longer valued as they were before.

I hope that you will not follow our path. Vote "yes" on HB505

Elizabeth Poiana

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Daily Interlake Urges Passage of HB 505

Slippery Slope of Assisted Suicide

http://www.dailyinterlake.com/opinion/editorials/article_25f14270-9373-11e2-9930-001a4bcf887a.html?mode=print

Montanans have a libertarian leaning towards a live-and-let-live philosophy, but what about live-and-let-die?

Physician-assisted suicide continues to be the subject of legislation in Helena, and so far lawmakers have justifiably advanced legislation that would ban the practice and make it clear that “consent of the victim” is not a valid defense for a physician who assists a person with suicide.

One’s initial reaction might be to wonder why the Legislature is putting itself in a position of interfering with the autonomy of a person to choose their own demise with medical assistance. Advocates of physician-assisted suicide, after all, can and do bring heart-wrenching testimonials about people with horrible diseases simply wanting help in ending their lives.

But there are also plenty of reasons why more than 100 legislative proposals nationwide to allow physician-assisted suicide have been rejected, and why 112 Montana doctors support the bill that would ban it. Many of those reasons come from the experience of Oregon and Washington, states that passed ballot initiatives to allow physician-assisted suicide.

In those states, suicides usually aren’t actually “assisted” by physicians; doctors instead provide lethal prescriptions at the request of individuals who are mostly left on their own.

There is the story of an Oregon woman who had cancer and chose suicide 12 years ago, only to be talked out of it by her doctor. Now she is alive and well because she pursued treatment instead, and thankful that she did.

Legal Assisted Suicide Puts the Government in Your Life

With the legalization of physician-assisted suicide, the Oregon State Government received a new right, which it exercises:   The right to steer citizens to suicide with treatment and/or financial incentives.  Oregon doctor, Ken Stevens, describes this right in detail below.*

In Montana, where physician-assisted suicide is not legal, the government does not have that right.  The law in Montana is, however, in a confused state, which has opened the door to possible legalization.

To prevent that from happening, tell your legislators to vote "Yes" on HB 505! 
_____ 

*  Dr. Stevens states:

A Response to Representative Moore

Re:  Vote "Yes" on HB 505, A Response to David "Doc" Moore

Dear Senate Judiciary Committee:

I was moved by the recent letter in the Montana Standard by David "Doc" Moore who lost his wife to cancer eleven years ago.  He says that when she "finally slipped into a coma, we thought that there would be relief." But, instead, "it was clear from her facial expressions and the constant death rattle that she was still suffering."

In 2009, my mother died a similar painful death. But it wasn't from her condition or a disease. You see, my mother was starved and dehydrated to death with massive doses of morphine after she'd had  a mild stroke. It had not mattered that she had been trying to speak and had indicated that she wanted water. The family member holding power of attorney, affirmed by a young doctor, had decided that it was time for her to die.

Daily Interlake Urges Passage of HB 505


 Slippery Slope of Assisted Suicide

http://www.dailyinterlake.com/opinion/editorials/article_25f14270-9373-11e2-9930-001a4bcf887a.html?mode=print

Montanans have a libertarian leaning towards a live-and-let-live philosophy, but what about live-and-let-die?

Physician-assisted suicide continues to be the subject of legislation in Helena, and so far lawmakers have justifiably advanced legislation that would ban the practice and make it clear that “consent of the victim” is not a valid defense for a physician who assists a person with suicide.

One’s initial reaction might be to wonder why the Legislature is putting itself in a position of interfering with the autonomy of a person to choose their own demise with medical assistance. Advocates of physician-assisted suicide, after all, can and do bring heart-wrenching testimonials about people with horrible diseases simply wanting help in ending their lives.

But there are also plenty of reasons why more than 100 legislative proposals nationwide to allow physician-assisted suicide have been rejected, and why 112 Montana doctors support the bill that would ban it. Many of those reasons come from the experience of Oregon and Washington, states that passed ballot initiatives to allow physician-assisted suicide.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

" Vote for HB 505 to stop a bad situation from getting worse"

Dear Senate Judiciary Committee:

Please vote for HB 505 to prevent doctors and nurses from having more power to cause patient deaths.  They abuse the power they already have.  Please consider my mother's story below.  I urge you to vote "yes" on HB 505. 

My mother, Sharon Moe, was diagnosed with colon cancer in February of this year.  After her surgery, I was told that she may be able to live for 6 months to 2 years.  My mother was against assisted suicide and euthanasia and wanted to live as long as possible.  She was placed back in the care of the nursing facility where hospice started to care for her.  She was placed on a continual feed through a feeding tube because she was unable to take in anything orally due to her medical condition.

From the beginning, hospice wanted to stop the continual feed.  My mother was adamant that she wanted to live and told the hospice nurse that she wanted to stay on the continual feed.  My mother was able to converse and sit upright within a day or so after being taken back to the nursing facility.  Her health was improving and she was doing really well after surgery despite the fact that she was underweight from not being able to eat.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Radio Ad Featuring Jeanette Hall and Paul Gorsuch, MD

Listen to Ad Below:

Jeanette Hall:   "I’m Jeanette Hall.  If my doctor had believed in assisted suicide, I would be dead.  Don’t let assisted suicide come to Montana.  Tell your legislators to vote “Yes” on House Bill 505!"

Paul Gorsuch, MD:  "I’m Dr. Paul Gorsuch. On behalf of myself and a hundred other doctors, I urge you to support House Bill 505."

"House Bill 505 will protect the 'Jeanette Halls' of the world.  Twelve years ago, she had cancer and decided to "do" Oregon's assisted suicide law.  Her doctor convinced her to be treated instead."

Tell your Senators to vote "Yes" on HB 505.

Call 406 444 4800

112 Montana Physicians Who Support HB 505!

PRESS RELEASE  - To view print version, click here.  To view doctors's ad, click here.              

FOR :                IMMEDIATE RELEASE, March 22 2013
FROM:             112 Physicians Who Support HB 505
CONTACT:      Paul Gorsuch, 406 761 3181, pgorbus@mac.com
           
SUBJECT:        Bill Will End the Confusion on Physician-Assisted Suicide; Will Protect Patients and Doctors

GREAT FALLS -  We are 112 Montana physicians who have joined together to support HB 505.

House Bill 505 is a short and simple bill that will clarify the law of physician-assisted suicide by clearly providing that physician-assisted suicide is not legal in Montana.  We support HB 505 because it will protect patients and our profession.  See our ad with all of our names, cities and towns now running in many Montana papers.*

HB 505 will be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, March 26, 2013 at 9 am.  Call 406 444 4800 and tell the Committee to vote “Yes” on HB 505.

Physician assisted suicide means a physician prescribes a lethal medication to another person to commit suicide.  This practice is open to abuse and error.

“Physician-assisted suicide is fundamentally incompatible with the physicians’ role as healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious societal risks.”  (AMA ethics opinion 2.211).

We Support HB 505
  • We Support HB 505 because it will protect the “Jeanette Halls” of the world.  Twelve years ago, she had cancer and decided to “do” Oregon’s assisted suicide law.  Her doctor talked her out of it and convinced her to be treated instead.  Today, she is “thrilled to be alive.”  Her photo is in our ad.  She states: “If my doctor had believed in assisted suicide, I would be dead.”            
  •  We Support HB 505 because it will protect our patients.                                                                                                                         
  • We Support HB 505 because it is a NORMAL LAW (only two states allow doctors to assist suicides).  HB 505 does NOT “send doctors to prison” or prevent doctors from providing the full range of end of life care including palliative care and treatment withdrawal.  If you READ THE BILL, this is clear.
* To read our ad, go here:  http://maasdocuments.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/doctors-hb505_ad_8-22x17_4color319.pdf  

To read HB 505 go here:  http://data.opi.mt.gov/bills/2013/billpdf/HB0505.pdf

Washington Doctor Alerts Senators to "Expansion" Issue

Dear Senate Judiciary Committee:

I am doctor in Washington State where assisted suicide is legal for “terminal patients” predicted to have less than six months to live.  I write to alert you to our “expansion” issue.

Our law has been in effect for just four years.  We have, however, already had proposals to expand that law to direct euthanasia of non-terminal people.  See e.g., Brian Faller, "Perhaps it's time to expand Washington's Death with Dignity Act", November 16, 2011.  Last year, there was also this article in the Seattle Times, suggesting euthanasia for people who cannot afford their own care, which would be involuntary euthanasia:  Jerry Large, "Planning for old age at a premium," March 8, 2012 at http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/text/2017693023.html ("After Monday's column,  . . . a few [readers] suggested that if you couldn't save enough money to see you through your old age, you shouldn't expect society to bail you out.  At least a couple mentioned euthanasia as a solution.")  (Emphasis added).

I am concerned with where this is going.  I hope that Montana protects its citizens by enacting HB 505.

Richard Wonderly, MD
Seattle Washington

Thursday, March 21, 2013

"This ad is appalling, even by the low standards of Compassion & Choices"

Dear Judiciary Members:

I am a probate attorney from Washington State where assisted suicide is, unfortunately, legal.

I recently saw an ad by “Compassion and Choices” which contained an over-the-top depiction of a doctor in handcuffs.  This ad is appalling, even by the low standards of Compassion in Choices.  (Compassion and Choices is a successor organization of the Hemlock Society, originally founded by Derek Humphry.  In 2011, Humphry was keynote speaker and Compassion and Choices annual meeting here in Washington.  He was also in the news as a promoter of mail-order suicide kits after a 29 year old man used one of the kits to commit suicide).*

HB 505 is needed to protect seniors and others from the ultimate in financial and physical abuse.  I urge you to vote YES.  Thank you.

Theresa Schrempp
Seattle, WA   

*  For supporting authority and more information, go here: http://www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/2012/12/compassion-choices-is-successor.html

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

"Legalizing assisted suicide results in causing non-dying persons to be steered to suicide" - Support HB 505

Dear Members of the Montana State Senate Judiciary Committee,

I am writing in support of HB 505, which would clarify that physician-assisted suicide is not legal in Montana.

I am a doctor in Oregon, one of two states where assisted-suicide is legal. My personal experience in Oregon has shown me that legalizing assisted suicide results in causing non-dying persons to be steered to suicide.

Oregon’s assisted-suicide law applies to patients predicted to have less than six months to live. In 2000, I had a cancer patient named Jeanette Hall. Another doctor had given her a terminal diagnosis of six months to a year to live. This was based on her not being treated for cancer.

At our first meeting, Jeanette told me that she did not want to be treated, and that she wanted to opt for what our law allowed – to kill herself with a lethal dose of barbiturates.  She informed me that she had voted for assisted suicide, and that is what she wanted. 

I did not and do not believe in assisted suicide. I informed her that her cancer was treatable and that her prospects were good. But she told me she didn't want the treatment, she wanted “the pills.” She had made up her mind, but she continued to see me weekly.  On the third or fourth visit, I asked her about her family and learned that she had a son. I asked her how he would feel if she went through with her plan. Shortly after that, she agreed to be treated, and her cancer was cured.

Five years later she saw me in a restaurant and said, “Dr. Stevens, you saved my life!”  She realized that if I had believed in assisted suicide, that she would not have enjoyed her past 5 years.  She is now alive and enjoying life over 12 years since her cancer diagnosis and successful treatment.

For her, the mere presence of legal assisted suicide had steered her to suicide.

I understand that you will be considering HB 505 next week.  I encourage you to be aware of the dangers of assisted suicide, and that you will do your part to keep it out of Montana.  Please vote yes on HB 505.

Sincerely, 


Kenneth Stevens, MD,
Professor Emeritus, Radiation Oncology, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Not Dead Yet Supports HB 505

Dear Senate Judiciary Committee Member:

Not Dead Yet is a national disability rights group with members in Montana.  On behalf of our members, I write to say that we urge you to pass HB 505, which is a short and simple bill to prevent legalization of assisted suicide and end the dispute over whether it is legal in Montana.

In the last two years, three other states have strengthened their laws against assisted suicide (Idaho, Georgia and Louisiana).  Not Dead Yet of Georgia was involved in the Georgia efforts.  We met with a woman, Sue Celmer, whose ex-husband had been assisted to commit suicide by Final Exit Network.  He had previously battled cancer, but was cancer free when these suicide predators assisted him.  Her story helped convey the urgency of legislation banning assisted suicide.   We hope that Montana will join Georgia and the other two states to protect older people, our families and ourselves.

Why HB 505 is Needed Now

By Margaret Dore, Esq.

A.  Baxter is Confusing

The Baxter case did not legalize physician-assisted suicide. Suicide proponents, including Dr. Stephen Speckart, have conceded the lack of legality.[1]  Baxter is, however, confusing with even lawyers unable to agree on its meaning.[2] 

B.  The Confusion has Allowed Suicide Proponents to Claim that Assisted Suicide is Legal

This confusion has allowed suicide proponents to claim that assisted suicide is legal.  Indeed, they have convinced the Board of Medical Examiners to issue a statement implying that assisted suicide is legal. 
This is "Position Statement No. 20," also called "Board Advisory No. 20." [3]

C.  Suicide Proponents are Recruiting Doctors; Doctors and the Public are at Risk

Suicide proponents have been actively recruiting doctors to perform assisted suicides with the false assurance that it is legally safe to do so.[4]  A doctor so recruited could find himself sued or even convicted of a homicide.  On the other hand, the present confusion could frustrate a civil and/or criminal action by an aggrieved party, such as a son and daughter outraged that the doctor has caused their father's suicide.

With the present situation, it’s hard to know legally what will happen.  Meanwhile, there is no assurance that any such suicide will be voluntary and/or not the product of abuse or coercion, for example, in the inheritance situation.  There is no assurance that the victim will not be a person with many quality years left to live, if only he or she had not been steered to suicide.

D.  The Solution
 

If instead, the law is clarified that physician-assisted suicide is not legal, there will be a clear tool for law enforcement, the medical profession and other interested parties to protect citizens from the negative consequences of assisted suicide legalization  (pressure, steerage, people throwing their lives away,  etc.).

HB 505 does this by clarifying Montana’s existing prohibition against “aiding or soliciting suicide” in 45-5-105.  The bill states:

 "A person who purposely aids or solicits another person to commit suicide, but such suicide does not occur, including physician-assisted suicide, commits the offense of aiding or soliciting suicide."[5]


E.  Tell Your Senator to Vote "Yes" on HB 505

This is why HB 505 is needed now, to stop the confusion to protect both doctors and the public.  Tell your Senators to vote "Yes" on HB 505!

Footnotes

[1]  In 2009, Dr. Speckart testified in support of SB 167, which had sought to legalize assisted suicide in Montana.  He said:  "[M]ost physicians feel significant dis-ease with the limited safeguards and possible risk of criminal prosecution after the Baxter decision."  See transcript at  http://maasdocuments.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/speckart-transcript.pdf
Senator Anders Blewett made a similar concession, stating:  “[U]nder current law, ... there’s nothing to protect the doctor from prosecution.”   See transcript at http://maasdocuments.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/blewett_speckhart_trans_001.pdf
[2]  See e.g. The Montana Lawyer, November 2011, Cover Story:  "The aid-in-dying debate: Can a physician legally help a patient to die in Montana?  Court ruling still leaves the issue open to argument, (with pro-con articles by Senator Anders Blewett and Senator Jim Shockley with Margaret Dore, available at  http://maasdocuments.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/mt-lawyer-cover-story_001.pdf
[3]  The current version of "Position Statement No. 20" is available at http://bsd.dli.mt.gov/license/bsd_boards/med_board/pdf/physician_aid_in_dying.pdf  
[4]  See letter from Stephen Speckart and George Risi, to all active Montana doctors, dated March 5, 2012 (falsely stating that “no basis exists [under Baxter] to prosecute a physician for providing aid in dying [physician-assisted suicide]”).  Available at http://maasdocuments.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/risispeckart_ltr_001.pdf  This letter attaches the original version of "Position Statement No. 20"  
[5]  HB 505 can be viewed here:  http://data.opi.mt.gov/bills/2013/billpdf/HB0505.pdf