Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Senator Shockley: Position Changed with Evidence

http://missoulian.com/news/opinion/mailbag/position-changed-with-evidence/article%20406ec244-237a-5cca-b240-1f2b407b49f3.html

October 24, 2014 6:30 am

I am a former legislator and a lawyer who at one time favored permitting physician-assisted suicide, but changed my position after looking at the evidence.

William Clarke is wrong about the legality of assisted suicide, and his definition of suicide, as described in his letter of Oct. 15. Physician-assisted suicide is against the law in Montana and killing oneself is suicide regardless of your health.

The present law is the Baxter case, which says that under certain circumstances a physician who assisted someone to kill herself/himself has a defense to a charge of homicide. It is a defense if the doctor is charged with homicide, that does not make it legal. If the doctor is charged with homicide and can convince a jury of certain facts, he will not be convicted. If he fails to do so, he is convicted of a felony. Of course, there is the civil liability of the doctor, which is not addressed at all by Clarke.

Legalizing physician-assisted suicide will lead to elder abuse and other problems as described by Bradley Williams in his recent letter (Sept. 25). The American Medical Association is against physician-assisted suicide for the same reason I am. It will lead to abuse of the elderly and others who are infirm, mentally or physically, but not really “terminally ill.” As an example, the much-touted Oregon law allows ordinary diabetes to be considered a terminally ill disease

Jim Shockley,

Victor