Dear Members of the Board,
I am writing again, as a Family Medicine physician in Bozeman since '89, to address the renewed attention given to Position Statement 20. I am having trouble understanding why our Montana Board of Medical Examiners would step out on a limb and seemingly promote, or at least encourage physicians to go along with a procedure, Physician Assisted Suicide for the following reasons:
1. Compassion and Choices [fna the Hemlock Society], which has brought the original lawsuit, and lobbied for this procedure is an out of state special interest group, looking to expand Physician Assisted Suicide all over the country. How is it that our own Board of Medical Examiners is stepping out on a limb to enable this organization to meet its goals?
2. The Montana Supreme Court's decision in the Baxter case gives no reassurance that this procedure will not be frowned upon in the court of law when it is tested. Does the Board really want to put itself in the embarrassing position of overstepping its authority by condoning this procedure?
3. The AMA's official policy statement is against Physician Assisted Suicide, why would the Board of Medical Examiners not simply reaffirm the AMA's stance on this issue?
4. There are many pitfalls and ethical issues that exist with Physician Assisted Suicide even in those states that have specific laws outlining procedural guidelines. Montana has no such framework, and the random application of such a procedure will certainly be fraught with misadventures and accusations of foul play. Does the Montana Board of Medical Examiners want to embed itself into the heart of such conflict and controversy?
Please vacate Position Statement 20 to avoid all of the above, and return to the mission statement of the Board to enable medicine to be practiced safely, and at a high level of quality. It would be a great goal for our Board to be above reproach in all issues.
Gabor Benda, MD