Thursday, August 18, 2011

Aid in Dying: Assisted Suicide is Not Legal in Montana

Thursday, August 18, 2011 8:45 am

Thank you for your article about Montanans Against Assisted Suicide & For Living with Dignity and our information booth at the Western Montana Fair. ("Opponents have their say at information booth," Aug. 10). I enjoyed being interviewed by the student journalist, who was very professional.

The article states that physician-assisted suicide, which the article terms "aid in dying," was ruled legal by the Montana Supreme Court. That would be the Baxter decision, which did not legalize assisted suicide. Your readers may be interested in this analysis of Baxter by attorneys Greg Jackson and Matt Bowman, at They state: "The Montana Supreme Court's assisted suicide decision ... didn't even 'legalize' assisted suicide ... After Baxter, assisted suicide continues to carry both criminal and civil liability risks for any doctor, institution, or lay person involved."

A bill that would have legalized assisted suicide, Senate Bill 167, was defeated in the last legislative session. During the hearing on that bill, the sponsor, Sen. Anders Blewett, made statements conceding that assisted suicide was not legal then, and with the failure of his bill, it's not legal now. For example, he said: "Under the current law ... there's nothing to protect the doctor from prosecution." Similar statements were made by others. For example, Dr. Stephen Speckart testified: "Most physicians feel significant dis-ease with the limited safeguards and possible risk of criminal prosecution after the Baxter decision."

To view transcript excerpts, go here:

I invite all of your readers to look at our website, If anyone would like to help keep assisted suicide out of Montana, please contact me. Donations are also appreciated. Thank you.

Bradley D. Williams, coordinator, Montanans Against Assisted Suicide & For Living with Dignity, Hamilton