The upcoming legislative session will likely see a new push to legalize assisted suicide in Montana. Your readers may also be told that assisted suicide is already legal, which is not the case.
In 2009, the Montana Supreme Court issued the Baxter decision, which gives doctors who assist a suicide a potential defense to prosecution for homicide. In the 2011 legislature, Sen. Anders Blewett and I introduced competing bills in response to Baxter, neither of which passed. Blewett’s bill sought to legalize assisted suicide; mine sought to eliminate the defense. 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.” 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.”
Legal assisted suicide is, regardless, a recipe for elder abuse in which heirs are empowered to pressure and abuse older people to cut short their lives. To learn more, see www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org
Assisted suicide is not legal in Montana. The potential defense to prosecution is, however, a “toe in the door” which could lead to legalization in the future. I urge you to tell your legislators that you support reversing the defense to keep assisted suicide out of Montana.
Sen. Greg Hinkle