Showing posts with label HB 505. Show all posts
Showing posts with label HB 505. Show all posts

Friday, March 22, 2013

Washington Doctor Alerts Senators to "Expansion" Issue

Dear Senate Judiciary Committee:

I am doctor in Washington State where assisted suicide is legal for “terminal patients” predicted to have less than six months to live.  I write to alert you to our “expansion” issue.

Our law has been in effect for just four years.  We have, however, already had proposals to expand that law to direct euthanasia of non-terminal people.  See e.g., Brian Faller, "Perhaps it's time to expand Washington's Death with Dignity Act", November 16, 2011.  Last year, there was also this article in the Seattle Times, suggesting euthanasia for people who cannot afford their own care, which would be involuntary euthanasia:  Jerry Large, "Planning for old age at a premium," March 8, 2012 at ("After Monday's column,  . . . a few [readers] suggested that if you couldn't save enough money to see you through your old age, you shouldn't expect society to bail you out.  At least a couple mentioned euthanasia as a solution.")  (Emphasis added).

I am concerned with where this is going.  I hope that Montana protects its citizens by enacting HB 505.

Richard Wonderly, MD
Seattle Washington

Thursday, March 21, 2013

"This ad is appalling, even by the low standards of Compassion & Choices"

Dear Judiciary Members:

I am a probate attorney from Washington State where assisted suicide is, unfortunately, legal.

I recently saw an ad by “Compassion and Choices” which contained an over-the-top depiction of a doctor in handcuffs.  This ad is appalling, even by the low standards of Compassion in Choices.  (Compassion and Choices is a successor organization of the Hemlock Society, originally founded by Derek Humphry.  In 2011, Humphry was keynote speaker and Compassion and Choices annual meeting here in Washington.  He was also in the news as a promoter of mail-order suicide kits after a 29 year old man used one of the kits to commit suicide).*

HB 505 is needed to protect seniors and others from the ultimate in financial and physical abuse.  I urge you to vote YES.  Thank you.

Theresa Schrempp
Seattle, WA   

*  For supporting authority and more information, go here:

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

"Legalizing assisted suicide results in causing non-dying persons to be steered to suicide" - Support HB 505

Dear Members of the Montana State Senate Judiciary Committee,

I am writing in support of HB 505, which would clarify that physician-assisted suicide is not legal in Montana.

I am a doctor in Oregon, one of two states where assisted-suicide is legal. My personal experience in Oregon has shown me that legalizing assisted suicide results in causing non-dying persons to be steered to suicide.

Oregon’s assisted-suicide law applies to patients predicted to have less than six months to live. In 2000, I had a cancer patient named Jeanette Hall. Another doctor had given her a terminal diagnosis of six months to a year to live. This was based on her not being treated for cancer.

At our first meeting, Jeanette told me that she did not want to be treated, and that she wanted to opt for what our law allowed – to kill herself with a lethal dose of barbiturates.  She informed me that she had voted for assisted suicide, and that is what she wanted. 

I did not and do not believe in assisted suicide. I informed her that her cancer was treatable and that her prospects were good. But she told me she didn't want the treatment, she wanted “the pills.” She had made up her mind, but she continued to see me weekly.  On the third or fourth visit, I asked her about her family and learned that she had a son. I asked her how he would feel if she went through with her plan. Shortly after that, she agreed to be treated, and her cancer was cured.

Five years later she saw me in a restaurant and said, “Dr. Stevens, you saved my life!”  She realized that if I had believed in assisted suicide, that she would not have enjoyed her past 5 years.  She is now alive and enjoying life over 12 years since her cancer diagnosis and successful treatment.

For her, the mere presence of legal assisted suicide had steered her to suicide.

I understand that you will be considering HB 505 next week.  I encourage you to be aware of the dangers of assisted suicide, and that you will do your part to keep it out of Montana.  Please vote yes on HB 505.


Kenneth Stevens, MD,
Professor Emeritus, Radiation Oncology, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Not Dead Yet Supports HB 505

Dear Senate Judiciary Committee Member:

Not Dead Yet is a national disability rights group with members in Montana.  On behalf of our members, I write to say that we urge you to pass HB 505, which is a short and simple bill to prevent legalization of assisted suicide and end the dispute over whether it is legal in Montana.

In the last two years, three other states have strengthened their laws against assisted suicide (Idaho, Georgia and Louisiana).  Not Dead Yet of Georgia was involved in the Georgia efforts.  We met with a woman, Sue Celmer, whose ex-husband had been assisted to commit suicide by Final Exit Network.  He had previously battled cancer, but was cancer free when these suicide predators assisted him.  Her story helped convey the urgency of legislation banning assisted suicide.   We hope that Montana will join Georgia and the other two states to protect older people, our families and ourselves.

Why HB 505 is Needed Now

By Margaret Dore, Esq.

A.  Baxter is Confusing

The Baxter case did not legalize physician-assisted suicide. Suicide proponents, including Dr. Stephen Speckart, have conceded the lack of legality.[1]  Baxter is, however, confusing with even lawyers unable to agree on its meaning.[2] 

B.  The Confusion has Allowed Suicide Proponents to Claim that Assisted Suicide is Legal

This confusion has allowed suicide proponents to claim that assisted suicide is legal.  Indeed, they have convinced the Board of Medical Examiners to issue a statement implying that assisted suicide is legal. 
This is "Position Statement No. 20," also called "Board Advisory No. 20." [3]

C.  Suicide Proponents are Recruiting Doctors; Doctors and the Public are at Risk

Suicide proponents have been actively recruiting doctors to perform assisted suicides with the false assurance that it is legally safe to do so.[4]  A doctor so recruited could find himself sued or even convicted of a homicide.  On the other hand, the present confusion could frustrate a civil and/or criminal action by an aggrieved party, such as a son and daughter outraged that the doctor has caused their father's suicide.

With the present situation, it’s hard to know legally what will happen.  Meanwhile, there is no assurance that any such suicide will be voluntary and/or not the product of abuse or coercion, for example, in the inheritance situation.  There is no assurance that the victim will not be a person with many quality years left to live, if only he or she had not been steered to suicide.

D.  The Solution

If instead, the law is clarified that physician-assisted suicide is not legal, there will be a clear tool for law enforcement, the medical profession and other interested parties to protect citizens from the negative consequences of assisted suicide legalization  (pressure, steerage, people throwing their lives away,  etc.).

HB 505 does this by clarifying Montana’s existing prohibition against “aiding or soliciting suicide” in 45-5-105.  The bill states:

 "A person who purposely aids or solicits another person to commit suicide, but such suicide does not occur, including physician-assisted suicide, commits the offense of aiding or soliciting suicide."[5]

E.  Tell Your Senator to Vote "Yes" on HB 505

This is why HB 505 is needed now, to stop the confusion to protect both doctors and the public.  Tell your Senators to vote "Yes" on HB 505!


[1]  In 2009, Dr. Speckart testified in support of SB 167, which had sought to legalize assisted suicide in Montana.  He said:  "[M]ost physicians feel significant dis-ease with the limited safeguards and possible risk of criminal prosecution after the Baxter decision."  See transcript at
Senator Anders Blewett made a similar concession, stating:  “[U]nder current law, ... there’s nothing to protect the doctor from prosecution.”   See transcript at
[2]  See e.g. The Montana Lawyer, November 2011, Cover Story:  "The aid-in-dying debate: Can a physician legally help a patient to die in Montana?  Court ruling still leaves the issue open to argument, (with pro-con articles by Senator Anders Blewett and Senator Jim Shockley with Margaret Dore, available at
[3]  The current version of "Position Statement No. 20" is available at  
[4]  See letter from Stephen Speckart and George Risi, to all active Montana doctors, dated March 5, 2012 (falsely stating that “no basis exists [under Baxter] to prosecute a physician for providing aid in dying [physician-assisted suicide]”).  Available at  This letter attaches the original version of "Position Statement No. 20"  
[5]  HB 505 can be viewed here: 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

" I support House Bill 505, which clearly states that assisted suicide is not legal"

My husband, Dr. James E. Mungas, was a respected physician and surgeon here in Great Falls. He developed amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and I took care of him. His mind was clear and thought processes unimpaired. He was against assisted suicide and euthanasia.

I needed to travel out of town for a day and a half. We agreed he would stay at a local care facility in my absence. Once there, nurses began administering morphine. After the first dose, my husband knew that he had been overdosed and typed out a message to call respiratory therapy. None came that day. Over the next few days, he struggled to breathe and desperately struggled to remain conscious to communicate, but the nurses kept pushing the morphine button and advised our children to do the same. My children and I did not understand the extent morphine would repress the respiratory system until later.  This was neither palliative care nor managing pain; this was hastening death. He was effectively euthanized against his will. He did not get his choice. It is traumatic, still, to realize his last communications were attempts to get help.

As illustrated by my husband's case, doctors and nurses already misuse or abuse the power they have. The stakes are too high to consider expanding their power by legalizing assisted-suicide. The recent guest column by Dr. Stephen Speckart and other doctors claims that assisted suicide is already legal. For that reason, I support House Bill 505, which clearly states that assisted suicide is not legal.

— Carol Mungas,
Great Falls

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Pass HB 505 - Rick Blevins, MD

The Montana Legislature is considering the question of physician-assisted suicide. The Senate has rejected an Oregon-style bill that would have legalized such a practice. The House has passed House Bill 505, which will end the confusion about assisted suicide in Montana. I am in favor of this bill and wish to clarify misconceptions expressed in a Viewpoint article published March 4.

HB 505 seeks to clarify the relevant law, which has been misinterpreted as a result of the Montana Supreme Court Baxter decision of 2009. This decision did not legalize physician assisted suicide, contrary to claims made by authors of the Viewpoint article. The court only stated that a patient’s consent, if given, may be used as a legal defense. Lawyers are scratching their heads about the meaning and the ramifications of this decision which is why the Legislature should act to provide needed clarity.

HB 505 only addresses the aiding or solicitation of suicide, including physician-assisted suicide. It specifically “does not include end of life palliative care in which a dying person receives medication to alleviate pain that may incidentally hasten the dying person’s death or any act to withhold or withdraw life-sustaining treatment” authorized by the Montana Rights of the Terminally Ill Act. The quotes are directly from the text of HB 505.

Please contact your senators and tell them to end the confusion. Please tell them to vote “yes” on HB 505.— Rick Blevins, M.D.,

Saturday, March 9, 2013

"He made the mistake of asking for information about assisted suicide"

Last year, my brother, Wes Olfert, died in Washington state, where assisted suicide is legal.

When he was first admitted to the hospital, he made the mistake of asking for information about assisted suicide. I say a mistake, because this set off a chain of events that interfered with his care and caused him unnecessary stress in what turned out to be the last months of his life.

By asking the question, he was given a “palliative care” consult by a doctor who heavily and continually pressured him to give up on treatment before he was ready to do so. It got so bad that Wes actually became fearful of this doctor and asked me and a friend to not leave him alone with her. Justified or not, Wes was afraid that the doctor would do something to him or have him sign something if she would find him alone.

In fact, even though he was on heavy doses of narcotic pain medications and not in a clear state of mind to sign documents without someone to advocate for him, this palliative care MD actually did try to get him to sign a DNR or “Do Not Resuscitate” form without his Durable POA or any family member present. Fortunately, his close friend/POA arrived at that moment to stop this from happening. Some of the other doctors and staff members seemed to also write Wes off once they learned that he had asked about assisted suicide.

I am writing to urge your readers to prevent assisted suicide in Montana. I do this on behalf of myself and my other brother, Ron Olfert, of Sanders County, who also died last year. He was strongly opposed to assisted suicide.

Please contact your legislators and ask them to vote “yes” on House Bill 505.

Marlene Deakins, RN
Tuscon, Arizona

Friday, March 8, 2013

"Because of my mother's experiences, I no longer believe in "physician-assisted suicide." Support House Bill 505."

Family member's 'accidental' death provides example for opposition to assisted suicide 

This letter is being written for a right to live.  We taxpayers paid a phenomenal amount of money when others decided it was time for my mother to die.  She would not die!  Three times she defied attempts on her life, costing her bed sores, hospice and her daughter being arrested while helping her (the latter arrest record was dismissed).

Mom succumbed in the hospital on Sept. 6, 2010.  The coroner's report case No. 100906 lists congestive heart failure with oxygen deprivation and fentanyl therapy.  The manner of death: accident.

Fentanyl is reported "to be 80 to 200 times as potent as morphine."  A fentanyl patch of 100 mcg/hour has a range within 24 hours of 1.9-3.8ng/mL. Mom's death result was 2.7 ng/mL on or about 48 hours.

Complaint No. 2012-069-MED was filed with the Montana Department of Labor and Industry Board of Medical Examiners. The screening panel voted to dismiss the complaint with prejudice, which means the board may not consider the complaint in the future.

Because of my mother's experiences, I no longer believe in "physician-assisted suicide."  Support House Bill 505.

Gail Bell,

Thursday, March 7, 2013

HB 505 Text

For a print copyclick here 



Section 1. Section 45-5-105, MCA, is amended to read:

"45-5-105. Aiding or soliciting suicide. (1) A person who purposely aids or solicits another person to commit suicide, but such suicide does not occur, including physician-assisted suicide, commits the offense of aiding or soliciting suicide.

Thursday, February 28, 2013




Wednesday, February 27, 2013


HB 505 just passed second reading in the Montana House of Representatives!

The Vote was 54 to 45!

Way to go!!!!!

HB 505: The Opposition Spews Misinformation

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

A.  Factual Context

House Bill 505 clarifies the offense of aiding or soliciting suicide. The bill’s other purpose is to prevent the legalization of physician-assisted suicide. 

In the two states where assisted suicide is legal, Oregon and Washington, problems have emerged, including that: (1) people with years to live are encouraged to throw away their lives; (2) new paths of elder abuse have been created; and (3) steerage to suicide by the Oregon government health plan has been documented and is ongoing.[1] 

B.  The Misinformation Campaign

Suicide proponents, apparently to deflect attention away from these problems, have embarked on a misinformation campaign, which is discussed and responded to below.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Jeff Golin Against Assisted Suicide

We are California Democrats and we are terrified of assisted suicide laws.  We have a severely disabled daughter who is in the institutional care of the State of California.

Given the long and notorious history of euthanasia, we are hoping you will approve HB 505 to put an end to the deceptions about this "cause."  We believe this is necessary to discourage assisted suicide from coming here to California, if it is not stopped in Montana.  We don't believe there are any effective safeguards against its possible abuses.

In our case personally, we fear physician assisted suicide could be sold here in Califolrnia as a means to prematurely terminate difficult disability cases like our daughters', to supposedly save money for relatives and caregivers, even while it is made to appear as a "choice."

Please vote "YES" on HB 505.

Jeffrey R. Golin

Oregon Lawyer: "Without transparency, our law is not safe."

Dear Montana Representative:

 I understand that HB 505 will strengthen Montana law against assisting suicide, including physician-assisted suicide.  For that reason I write in support of that bill.

I am a lawyer in Oregon who specializes in injury claims, including wrongful death cases. I write to inform you that our law lacks transparency and that even law enforcement is denied access to information collected by the state. Moreover, this is official state policy.

In 2010, I was retained by a client whose father had died under our assisted-suicide act. Unlike other deaths I have investigated, it was difficult to get basic information.

Saturday, February 23, 2013


On Thursday, February 20, 2013, HB 505 was voted out of the House Judiciary Committee!  

The vote to pass was 12 to 8!  

Our next step is to pass out of the House.  The vote on the floor will most likely occur next week. 

HB 505 is a short and simple bill that clarifies the offense of aiding or soliciting suicide.  The bill’s other purpose is to prevent the legalization of assisted suicide in Montana.  To view a copy of the bill click here.  For more detailed information, click here.

HB 505 is consistent with Montana's civil law in which persons who cause or fail to prevent another person’s suicide can be found civilly liable.[1]  This is typically in a hospital or jail setting.[2]

HB 505 is needed now because the former Hemlock Society, Compassion & Choices, is falsely and aggressively claiming that assisted suicide is legal in Montana.  Indeed, C & C refers to Montana as the “third state” along with Oregon and Washington.

A lie or half truth repeated enough times becomes the truth.

With a yes vote on HB 505, the law will be clear that assisted suicide is not legal in Montana.  There will be a clear tool for law enforcement and other interested parties to stop the propaganda.  There will be a clear means to protect Montana citizens, especially the elderly. 

Please tell your legislators to vote Yes!  


 [1]  See Krieg v. Massey, 239 Mont. 469, 472-3 (1989) and Nelson v. Driscoll, 295 Mont. 363, Para 32-33 (1999).  Other cases include Edwards v. Tardif, 240 Conn. 610, 692 A.2d 1266 (1997) (affirming a civil judgment against a physician who had prescribed an ”excessively large dosage” of barbiturates to a suicidal patient who then killed herself with the barbiturates).
[2]  Id.