September 26, 2022

Legality of assisted suicide still murky in Montana

A 2009 ruling that didn’t prevent doctors who assist patients to commit suicide from being criminally charged may leave the state of Montana in limbo after a bill aimed at clarifying the issue failed two weeks ago.
A 2009 ruling that
didn’t prevent doctors who assist patients to commit suicide from being
criminally charged may leave the state of Montana in limbo after a bill
aimed at clarifying the issue failed two weeks ago.


The Montana Supreme
Court has ruled that state law does not forbid doctors from prescribing
lethal drugs to mentally competent, terminally ill patients. However,
the court didn’t clarify whether the state constitution guarantees the
right to
physician-assisted
suicide
.
Doctors are concerned that they could still be prosecuted in such
cases, although the high court ruling said they could use – most likely
successfully – physician-assisted suicide as a defence to charges of
homicide.


Many hoped legislators
would clarify the issue – by either setting up rules or definitively
saying it is banned. Supporters of the procedure argued legislators had
an obligation to provide guidance following the Supreme Court’s ruling.
Opponents countered that the risks of abuse of the elderly and infirm
required lawmakers to impose a complete ban.


The Senate Judiciary
Committee tabled the plan, however, on a 7-5 vote, that would have
implemented regulations for the procedure. A separate measure to make
physician-assisted suicide illegal appears to have little chance of
clearing the Legislature and getting the signature of the governor. ~
CNBC, Feb 10

Jared Yee
assisted suicide
euthanasia
Montana