Saturday, December 1, 2012

Senator Jim Shockley: Assisted suicide not legal

Brad Williams is correct that assisted-suicide is not legal in Montana. (Legalization could lead to abuse). The Montana Supreme Court's assisted-suicide case, Baxter v. State, limited its holding to giving doctors who assist a suicide a potential defense if those doctors are charged with homicide for the death of their patients. There are several steps that the doctor must demonstrate to perfect the defense.

Baxter did not invalidate our homicide statutes. Baxter did not overrule our case law allowing family members to sue an attending physician for negligence, malpractice, or wrongful death.

As an attorney in private practice, I did my share of wills, probates and estates. I observed that some heirs did not care as much for the elderly as they did for the elderly person's assets.

With the legalization of assisted-suicide, heirs would be encouraged to suggest, cajole or coerce older people to kill themselves, i.e., before such persons are able to change their wills, give their money to charity or simply spend it. Legal assisted suicide is a recipe for elder abuse.

Jim Shockley
Senate District 45