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 The order ruled that the appeal was moot due to the Board's having recently rescinded "Position Statement No. 20."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.

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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A lawyer for the Board says that the position - since rescinded, says no such thing.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].