Monday, July 30, 2012

Update on Board: Thank You Letter Received

As described in an earlier post, on July 20, 2012, the Montana Board of Medical Examiners denied Montanans Against Assisted Suicide and other members of the public a requested hearing on Position Statement No. 20.   The Board voted to instead thank interested persons in writing.  A copy of the letter sent to Montanans Against Assisted Suicide can be viewed here. Montanans Against Assisted Suicide anticipates a further legal challenge. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Board Denies Hearing on Legal Issues; Legal Challenge Anticipated

On May 7, 2012, the Montana Board of Medical Examiners voted to postpone consideration of whether Position Statement No. 20 should be vacated.[1]  Position Statement No. 20 concerns "aid in dying," a euphemism for assisted suicide and euthanasia.[2]  The reasons given for the delay included "to allow additional time for public input."[3]

On July 6, 2012, Montanans Against Assisted Suicide filed additional "public input" including a letter and a legal memorandum titled:  "Summary of Legal Arguments Requiring Position Statement No. 20 to be Vacated as a Matter of Law."[4]  The letter requested twenty minutes oral argument.[5]

On July 20, 2012, the Board held the postponed hearing.  The Board acknowledged that it had received the above documents and also acknowledged the presence of Cory Swanson, attorney for Montanans Against Assisted Suicide.  The Board did not allow Mr. Swanson to speak.

The Board did, however, allow a presentation by a DLI staff attorney on position papers generally.  The Board asked him a few questions and voted to have their staff thank people in writing for their input. The exact text will be posted once we get it.  

Montanans Against Assisted Suicide anticipates a further legal challenge.

* * *

[1]  See Board of Medical Examiner Minutes for May 7, 2012, Item #5. 
[2]  See “Model Aid-in-Dying Act,” published in the Iowa Law Review at  Note the letters “euthan” in the link.
[3]  See note 1 at Item #4 (Comments by Craig Charlton and Anne O'Leary; the quote is from Ms. O'Leary).
[4]  To see letter, click here.  To see legal memorandum, click here
[5]  See letter in note 5.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

"Does the Board really want to put itself in the embarrassing position of overstepping its authority by condoning this procedure? "

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? 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Suicide Predator Conviction Upheld

Appeals Court upholds nurse's aiding suicide conviction

by Amy Forliti, Associated Press, 
July 17, 2012

[To for more information, charging document click here]
[To link to Nadia's Light, click here]

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Court of Appeals on Tuesday affirmed the convictions of a former nurse who scanned online chat rooms for suicidal people then, feigning compassion, gave a British man and a young woman in Canada instructions on how to kill themselves. 

William Melchert-Dinkel, 49, of Faribault, acknowledged that what he did was morally wrong but argued he had merely exercised his right to free speech and that the Minnesota law used to convict him in 2011 of aiding suicide was unconstitutional. 

The appeals court disagreed, saying the First Amendment does not bar the state from prosecuting someone for "instructing (suicidal people on) how to kill themselves and coaxing them to do so."