The attempt to legalize assisted suicide has gone down in defeat
in Montana -- for now. Opponents of the measure, while pleased,
remain alert for any other attempt to legalize it.
SB 220 was designed to clarify an
earlier ruling by the Montana Supreme Court, but the end result
would have been legalization of physician-assisted suicide. Bradley
Williams heads Montanans Against Assisted Suicide.
"It was a legalization of assisted suicide bill," he tells
OneNewsNow. "It was in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and
it was what is often called a 'model' bill. It was modeled after
[similar laws in] Oregon and Washington, [and] it had the same
flaws in the laws that those laws have."
The committee voted the bill down 7-5 and then tabled it until
As Williams explains, the push in the legislature from both
sides of the debate stems from a Montana Supreme Court decision
(Baxter v. State of Montana), which he says did not clarify
"All they said was they acknowledged that assisted suicide is a
homicide in Montana, but that if a doctor was charged with a
homicide he has a potential defense based on consent [of the
patient]," he offers.
In that 2009 ruling, the Montana Supreme Court
vacated a lower-court decision that a person has a constitutional
right to assisted suicide.
Meanwhile, Montanans Against Assisted Suicide is pushing a bill
in the house to clarify the situation in order to prevent the
practice. Williams says assisted suicide is a prescription for
abuse of the elderly and the disabled.