In the Nov. 16 Tribune article, Brad Williams is correct; assisted-suicide is not legal in Montana. The Montana Supreme Court decision, Baxter v. State, merely gives doctors a potential defense to prosecution for homicide. In the 2011 legislative session, Sen. Anders Blewett and I introduced competing bills in response to Baxter, neither of which passed. His 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, "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
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. 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. Tell your legislators that you support reversing the defense to keep assisted-suicide out of Montana.
Sen. Greg Hinkle,