Saturday, January 21, 2012

"Legal assisted suicide is a recipe for elder abuse"

First published Jan 20 2012 01:01AM
Updated Jan 20, 2012 01:01AM

I am the coordinator of Montanans Against Assisted Suicide and for Living with Dignity. I disagree with Patty Henetz that assisted suicide is legal in Montana, or, as she wrote, to “allow doctors to legally write such prescriptions for the terminally ill, under certain circumstances” (“Do Utahns have the right to choose how they die?” Tribune, Jan. 8)

For the past five years, Montana has been targeted for legalization of assisted suicide by the Denver-based suicide promotion organization deceptively named Compassion and Choices (formerly the Hemlock Society). In 2007, Compassion and Choices initiated litigation that resulted in the 2009 Baxter decision that gives doctors, and only doctors, a potential defense to criminal prosecution for causing or assisting a suicide.

Assisted suicide is not legalized by giving doctors or anyone else criminal or civil immunity.

In 2011, Compassion and Choices tried again, backing a bill, SB167, that would have legalized assisted suicide in Montana. The Legislature did not pass it.

Legal assisted suicide is a recipe for elder abuse. It has multiple other problems as we discuss on our website (

Bradley D. Williams
Hamilton, Mont.