Thursday, July 28, 2011

Senator Blewett's Statements Concede That Assisted Suicide is Not Legal in Montana

Health care:  State doesn't need legal suicide,
Published in the Missoulian, Wednesday, June 15, 2011 8:45 am

I am amazed with the letter by Sen. Anders Blewett claiming that doctors can't be convicted of homicide if they cause or assist a suicide in Montana ("Physician aid in dying: Bill's rejection a step forward," June 10). His bill, Senate Bill 167, which would have accomplished that goal, was defeated this last legislative session.

Blewett's current claim is also the exact opposite of what he said when he was trying to get his bill passed. I have transcripts from the hearings on SB167. Blewett's quotes include: "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 transcript excerpts, go here:

Blewett's current claim is also contrary to the analysis of Montana attorney Greg Jackson, who with attorney Matt Bowman, states: "The Montana Supreme Court's assisted suicide decision ... didn't even 'legalize' assisted suicide ... After Baxter, assisted suicide continues to carry both criminal and civil liability risks for any doctor, institution, or lay person involved." 

Blewett's bill, SB167, was defeated because it was a doctor-protection bill at the expense of individual patient rights. Legal assisted suicide is also a recipe for elder abuse in which heirs and others are empowered to pressure and abuse older people to cut short their lives. In Oregon, where assisted suicide is legal, patients desiring treatment have been offered assisted suicide instead. With the gaps in that law, patients are also unprotected from someone administering the lethal dose to them against their will.

Assisted suicide is not legal in Montana. Let's keep it that way.

Sen. Greg Hinkle, Thompson Falls