Saturday, April 27, 2013

MD responds to doctor's opinion piece supporting physician-assisted suicide

April 26, 2013 12:16 pm  

I am a general medical practitioner with 30 years’ experience. I work in emergency medicine, with nursing home residents and with incarcerated persons. I have two issues with Dr. Eric Kress's (April 7) opinion describing his assistance of three suicides. First, since when did assisted suicide become legal? Second, I have concerns about the cases he describes.

Kress claims that his patients were not depressed. His description of one of those patients, however, suggests otherwise. Someone who is "often … found weeping and bemoaning the miserable fated that had befallen him" sounds depressed and unrecognized and untreated. And, someone who is "experiencing increasing pain in his chest…" may have needed different medications. There is essentially no pain that cannot be treated, though a secondary effect may be to hasten death. I do not know the medical facts of these cases; I do know that there were other options than committing suicide, whether or not they were explored.

Doctors’ diagnoses can also be wrong. I have seen patients in my own practice live longer than expected. With this situation, patients participating in medical suicides can be throwing away their lives. I have also seen suicidal people get better, and rebuild lives that looked pretty grim. I do not agree that doctors or anyone else should be assisting other people to commit suicide.

Carley C. Robertson, MD,

Oregon resident would not be alive today if she had used physician-assisted suicide

This letter responds to the (April 7) guest column by Dr. Eric Kress promoting assisted suicide. If Kress had been my doctor in 2000, I would be dead.

I live in Oregon, where physician-assisted suicide is legal. In 2000, I was diagnosed with cancer and told that I had six months to a year to live. I knew that our law had passed, but I didn’t know exactly how to go about doing it. I tried to ask my doctor, but he didn’t really answer me.

I did not want to suffer. I wanted to do our law and I wanted my doctor to help me. Instead, he encouraged me to not give up and ultimately I decided to fight. I had both chemotherapy and radiation. It is now 12 years later. I am so happy to be alive!

Last month, doctors in Montana contacted me to let them use my story to promote House Bill 505, which is a bill to prevent assisted suicide in Montana. This is a link to their recent press release:

Vote “yes” on HB505.

Don’t make Oregon’s mistake.

Jeanette Hall,
King City, Ore.

Thursday, April 11, 2013


This afternoon, the Montana Senate blasted HB 505 to the floor in a 31 to 17 Vote!!!!

Thank you to everyone who worked so hard to get us this far!!!!

Please keep up the pressure to tell your Senators to vote "Yes"!


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

HB 505 Fact Sheet (Preventing “Purposely” Assisting Suicide)

By Margaret Dore, Esq,
For a print version, click here

1. What is HB 505?

HB 505 is a short two page bill that will end the confusion over whether physician-assisted suicide is legal in Montana.  The bill does this by clearly stating that physician-assisted suicide is not legal.

2. What is Assisted Suicide? 

Assisted suicide means that someone provides the means and/or information for another person to commit suicide.  When a physician provides the means and/or the information, the term is physician-assisted suicide.  Other involved persons can include family members who assist the suicide, for example, by taking the patient to the doctor.  Such persons do not always have the best interest of the patient at heart.

3. Who Supports HB 505?

HB 505 is supported by 112 Montana physicians who joined together to run supporting ads throughout the state.  HB 505 is also supported by Montanans Against Assisted Suicide, which has submitted 4000 plus signatures against assisted suicide into the Senate Judiciary Committee.  See

Monday, April 8, 2013

Don't Give Doctors More Power to Abuse Patient Choice: Vote "Yes" on HB 505

Prepared by Margaret Dore, Esq.
For a print version, click here

1.  Letter from Kate Kelly to the Senate Judiciary Committee, A Response to David “Doc” Moore, March 24, 2013 (“If these terrible deaths happen when aid in dying (assisted suicide and euthanasia) is not legal, what will happen if these practices are made legal? Doctors will have even more power to take away patient choice”).  Letter available at

2.  Letter from Mike Moe to the Senate Judiciary Committee, March 23, 2013 (“Please vote for  HB 505 to prevent doctors and nurses from having more power to cause patient deaths. They abuse the power they already have. Please consider my mother’s story . . .”).  Letter available at

3.  Letter from Carol Mungas to the Great Falls Tribune, March 14, 2013 (“As illustrated by my husband’s case, doctors and nurses already abuse the power they have.  The stakes are too high to consider expanding their power by legalizing assisted-suicide”).  Letter available at

4.  Letter from Gail Bell to the Ravalli Republic, March 5, 2013 (“Because of my mother’s experiences, I no longer believe in “physician-assisted suicide.  Support House Bill 505").  Letter available at

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

"Once in place, this 'trend' is not controllable"

Dear Senators:

For those of you who don't know me, I am an attorney in Washington state where physician-assisted suicide is legal. I am writing to urge you to not make Washington's mistake by allowing assisted suicide/euthanasia to become part of your state's legal fabric.  Once in place, this "trend" is not controllable.  I urge you to vote "Yes" on HB 505 to clearly state that assisted suicide is not legal in Montana.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Support for HB 505

The following is a sampling of individuals and groups who support HB 505.

1.  112 Montana doctors have joined together to support HB 505.  See this link for their press release:
2.  Montanans Against Assisted Suicide has submitted 4000 plus signatures against assisted suicide into the Senate Judiciary Committee.

3.  The national disability rights group, Not Dead Yet, with members in Montana, has endorsed HB 505.  See
4.  Carol Mungas, the widow of a prominent physician who was euthanized by nurses against his will in Great Falls, has endorsed HB 505.  See 
5.  Montanans, Mike Moe and Gail Bell, with similar experiences, have endorsed HB 505.  See and
6.  The Daily Inter Lake endorsed HB 505.  See

Monday, April 1, 2013

Why HB 505 is Needed Now

By Margaret Dore

Last week, a Montana doctor admitted assisting three suicides during a hearing on HB 505.[1]  He claimed that his actions were legal based on the Baxter case.  Baxter did not, however, legalize assisted suicide, which has been conceded by other suicide proponents.[2], [3]  Baxter is, however, subject to ongoing controversy.    

Any counter move to protect the public, such as prosecution of the doctor, will be complicated by the controversy surrounding Baxter.  Moreover, as with any litigation, the outcome is not certain.  For this reason, the doctor's prevailing is a possibility.  If he does prevail, another possibility is that legalization of assisted suicide will occur by judicial fiat.  Whether this actually occurs will depend on the facts, the judge and other circumstances.

On the other hand, if HB 505 is enacted, there will be a clear statement going forward that assisted suicide is not legal.  The negative consequences of legalization, such as elder abuse, will be avoided.

This is why HB 505 is needed now.  To stop the confusion and protect the public.  The stakes are too high to leave the outcome to chance.

Tell your legislators to vote "Yes" on HB 505!
[1] Briana Wipf, "Emotions flow over assisted suicide during Senate hearing," Great Falls Tribune,  March 30, 2013, available at
[2] See Greg Jackson and Matt Bowman, “Analysis of Implications of the Baxter Case on Potential Criminal Liability,” Spring 2010, at
[3]  During a Senate hearing in 2011, assisted suicide proponent, Senator Anders Blewett, said:  “[U]nder current law, ... there’s nothing to protect the doctor from prosecution.”  ( ).  Dr. Stephen Speckart, another proponent, made a similar statement: "[M]ost physicians feel significant dis-ease with the limited safeguards and possible risk of criminal prosecution after the Baxter decision."  (Id. at p.2)