Monday, August 29, 2011

Assisted Suicide: Court overlooked elder abuse

Bradley Williams letter published in the Missoulian: 
Posted: Sunday, August 28, 2011 1:39 pm |

John Board’s (August 24) letter accurately quotes my letter (August 18): “The Montana Supreme Court’s assisted suicide decision ... didn’t even ‘legalize’ assisted suicide.” This quote is from a legal analysis of the Baxter decision by attorneys Greg Jackson and Matt Bowman. They also state: “The Court merely allowed a possible consent defense if persons continue to be charged with murder for assisted suicide ... After Baxter, assisted suicide continues to carry both criminal and civil liability risks for any doctor, institution, or lay person involved.”

During the recent legislative session, Sen. Anders Blewett, another attorney, made statements on the record demonstrating his understanding that it was not legally safe for doctors to assist a patient’s suicide. For example, he said: “under the current law ... there’s nothing to protect the doctor from prosecution.”

Board’s letter also quotes this statement from Baxter: “In conclusion, we find nothing in Montana Supreme Court precedent or Montana statutes indicating that physician aid in dying is against public policy.” When making this statement, Baxter overlooked our public policies against elder abuse. See, e.g., Sen. Greg Hinkle’s report to the legislature with attorney Margaret Dore, which states: “The Court ... overlooked criminal behavior by family members and others who benefit from a patient’s death, for example, due to an inheritance.” (Senate Hearing Record, SB 116.) For more information, see Margaret Dore, “Physician-Assisted Suicide: Not Legal in Montana; A Recipe for Elder Abuse,” July 15, 2011,  

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,