May 2, 2013
I disagree that the defeat of House Bill 505 somehow renders assisted suicide legal under the Montana Supreme Court case, Baxter v. State. (“Montana Senate rejects doctor-assisted suicide bill”).
In the 2011 legislative session, Sen. Anders Blewett and I introduced competing bills in response to Baxter, which did not legalize assisted suicide. Baxter does, however, have toe-in-the-door type language, which invites legalization in the future. Neither bill passed. His bill had sought to legalize assisted suicide; mine had sought to reverse Baxter.
During the hearing on Blewett’s bill, he conceded that assisted suicide was not legal under Baxter. He said: “under the current law ... there’s nothing to protect the doctor from prosecution.” Dr. Stephen Speckart provided similar testimony: “most physicians feel significant dis-ease with the limited safeguards and possible risk of criminal prosecution after the Baxter decision.” (To view a transcript, see http://maasdocuments.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/blewett_speckhart_trans_001.pdf .)
This session, there was a similar situation. SB220, which had sought to legalize assisted suicide, was defeated. HB505, which would have reversed Baxter, was also defeated.
In other words, Baxter, which did not legalize assisted suicide, remains the law. Assisted suicide is not legal in Montana. For more information, see www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/p/baxter-case-analysis.html .