Bill to Charge Doctors with Homicide for Providing Aid in Dying Defeated
Synopsis: Bipartisan group of legislators voted 51 to 49 to reject bill HB328, which opponents call The Physician Imprisonment Act.1
Author: Compassion & Choices Contact: CompassionAndChoices.org
Compassion & Choices praised the Montana House for rejecting a bill that would have charged a doctor with homicide for writing a prescription for aid-in-dying medication to a terminally ill adult who wants that option to end their suffering. Doctors also would have lost their license to practice medicine under the bill, which would trump a Montana State Supreme Court ruling.
Refers to the practice of intentionally ending a life in order to relieve pain and suffering. Also called mercy killing. the act of putting to death painlessly or allowing to die, as by withholding extreme medical measures, a person or animal suffering from an incurable, especially a painful, disease or condition. Euthanasia may be classified according to whether a person gives informed consent into three types: voluntary, non-voluntary and involuntary.
A bipartisan group of legislators voted 51 to 49 to reject the bill, HB328, which opponents call "The Physician Imprisonment Act."
The Montana House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on Wednesday on another draconian bill, HB477, that would imprison a doctor or up to 10 years for writing an aid-in-dying prescription.
A 2013 poll showed 69% of Montana voters support authorizing physicians to write prescriptions for aid-in-dying medication.
"We thank the House for rejecting this bill that would charge a physician who honors a dying patient's request for medical aid in dying with homicide and take away their medical license," said Compassion & Choices Montana Campaign Manager Emily Bentley.
"Now we urge the House not to reverse course on HB 328 on the final reading of the bill and to reject HB 477 that would put doctors who practice aid in dying in prison for up to 10 years."
In 2009, the Montana Supreme Court ruled in Baxter v. Montana that state law authorizes physicians to prescribe aid-in-dying medication to a terminally ill adult who requests it.
The Court said: "The Rights of the Terminally Ill Act clearly provides that terminally ill patients are entitled to autonomous end-of-life decisions."
The court required four safeguards - The patient must be:
- terminally ill,
- mentally competent,
- over 18 years old,
- must self-administer the medication.
Five years later, many doctors across Montana have written aid-in-dying prescriptions for terminally ill people who request it.
Compassion & Choices is the nation's oldest and largest nonprofit organization working to improve care and expand choice at the end of life. Leading the end-of-life choice movement for more than 30 years, we support, educate and advocate.
More information is available at: www.compassionandchoices.org
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