Thursday, April 22, 2010

Help is homicide

Posted on Thu, Apr 22, 2010 at 4:00 AM

The pro-assisted-suicide organization Compassion and Choices (C&C) is telling Montana doctors that they face no penalties for assisting suicides. But its statements are contradictory. C&C attorney Kathryn Tucker called it “shameful” to warn suicide doctors that they face possible murder charges. But C&C President Barbara Combs Lee refused to identify actual suicides “to prevent investigations into the cases.”

Watch what C&C does, not what it says. Nothing in the Montana Supreme Court’s decision prevents prosecutors from investigating and charging suicide-assisters with murder. Under the decision, assisting a suicide continues to be defined as homicide. The court merely said that in some narrow circumstances a physician might (or might not) be able to raise a “consent defense.” But a consent defense is for defendants already charged with murder. In real life, suicides involve patients who suffer pressures, abuse, impaired decision-making and other vulnerabilities that don’t even qualify as “consent.” And nothing prevents lawsuits against doctors and institutions over those messy details.

Jeff Laszloffy

President

Montana Family Foundation

Laurel

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