Doctor-assisted suicide not legal after Montana court case

Assisted suicide, Kavorkian

First, Slavin’s article implies that doctor-assisted suicide is legal in Montana, which is not the case. In 2009, the Montana Supreme Court issued an opinion giving doctors who caused or assisted a suicide a potential defense to a homicide conviction. That opinion did not legalize assisted suicide by giving doctors or anyone else immunity from criminal and civil liability for assisting a suicide, which is the case in Oregon and Washington where assisted suicide is legal.

In our last legislative session, a bill that would have legalized assisted suicide was defeated in our legislature. During hearings on that bill, the sponsor, Senator Anders Blewett, conceded that assisted suicide is not legal in Montana. He said: “Under the current law, there’s nothing to protect the doctor from prosecution.”

Second, in Oregon, legalization has allowed the state-run health plan to steer patients to suicide. The most well-known cases involve Barbara Wagner and Randy Stroup. Each wanted treatment. The plan offered them assisted suicide instead. They were steered to suicide. Moreover, it was the Oregon Health Plan, a government entity, doing the steering. State-sanctioned suicide empowers the government, not the individual.

See Susan Donaldson James, “Death, Drugs Cause Uproar in Oregon” on ABC News, and “Letter noting assisted suicide raises questions.”

Bradley D. Williams

co-ordinator,

Montanans Against Assisted Suicide and For Living with Dignity