Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Montana Group Appeals Medical Examiner Board Lawsuit

FOR: IMMEDIATE RELEASE, February 11, 2014

Montanans Against Assisted Suicide (MAAS) appeals Montana Medical Board lawsuit  MAAS seeks permanent removal of a position statement that wrongly implies that assisted suicide is legal in Montana; appeal will also allow MAAS to continue its ongoing challenge to Montana's assisted suicide case, Baxter v. State.

(Helena, Mont.) Montanans Against Assisted Suicide (MAAS) is appealing the dismissal of a lawsuit against the Montana Board of Medical Examiners as part of an ongoing campaign to prevent the legalization of assisted suicide in Montana. The lawsuit was dismissed after the Board voluntarily discarded a position statement implying that assisted suicide "may" be legal in Montana. Without MAAS's appeal, there would be nothing to stop the Board from re-issuing a similar statement in the future.

"The only reason the Board of Medical Examiners abandoned their position paper was to get rid of our lawsuit," said Margaret Dore, Attorney for MAAS. "That's not good enough. They're just going to come back again with a new angle in the future that they hope will get around the legislature.  The position paper was a significant 'toe in the door' to the attempted backdoor legalization of assisted suicide in Montana.  The Board will attempt to do it again using another angle."

Appeal will also allow MAAS to continue its ongoing challenge to the decision in Baxter v. State, which suicide proponents claim legalized assisted suicide in Montana. A MTN News article describes the situation, as follows:

[The] position paper - in response to the lawsuit - has since been rescinded by the Board and scrubbed from its website. But [MAAS's attorney, Margaret] Dore said court action was still needed to prevent the Board from reinstating such a position.

She repeatedly asked District Judge Mike Menahan to weigh in on a Montana Supreme Court ruling known as Baxter, that envisions potential defenses to doctors charged with homicide for assisting with suicide.*
Problems with legalizing assisted suicide include that it encourages people with years to live, to throw away their lives. Legalization also creates new opportunities for elder abuse, for example, when there is an inheritance involved. In Oregon, legalization has enabled that state's health plan (Medicaid) to offer the "treatment" of suicide in lieu of desired treatments (to improve the quality of life, to extend life or to cure).**

For Bradley Williams, President of MAAS, preventing assisted suicide legalization is up front and personal. He says, "I'm 64 years old. I don't want a doctor or anyone else telling me or my wife that we should go kill ourselves."

MAAS is a single issue group that welcome everyone opposed to assisted-suicide regardless of their views on other issues. In 2013, MAAS and its allies easily defeated Senate Bill 220, which had sought to legalize assisted suicide in Montana.  MAAS's own bill, HB 505, which had sought to reverse Baxter's holding and give prosecutors a lower sentencing option, passed the House, but was defeated by four votes in the Senate before it was tabled.

* To view a copy of the MTV News article, go here: http://www.kxlf.com/news/montana-judge-hears-assisted-suicide-arguments/

** To view a copy of "Quick Facts Against Assisted Suicide," go here: http://www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/p/quick-facts-about-assisted-suicide.html