Contact: Emily Bentley, ebentley@compassionandchoices.
By Compassion & Choices staff
April 11, 2013
(Helena, MT) – HB505, an extreme bill that would eliminate Montana’s currently legal practice of aid in dying and make it a felony, was blasted to the Senate Floor this afternoon on a 31-17 procedural vote. The blast motion overrides the vote of the Judiciary Committee, which tabled the bill last week. Opponents of aid in dying worked the system to get a second chance to pass the Physician Imprisonment Act, which, according to a recent poll, 73 percent of Montanans oppose.
The following statement can be attributed to Emily Bentley, Campaign Manager, Compassion & Choices Montana.
“We are disappointed that the Montana Senate did not respect the Judiciary Committee’s ability to decide the merits of this bill based on the testimony senators heard on March 26. The bill was tabled with bi-partisan opposition in committee. Montana senators have much more important things to work on at this critical time in the legislature than intimidating compassionate doctors. This bill undercuts Montanans’ expectations of personal autonomy without government interference. It parachutes big government into families’ most personal moments and criminalizes compassionate medical care. We will continue to work to defeat this bill because it would deny suffering, terminally ill patients the ability to choose aid in dying, by imprisoning doctors who support their patients’ decisions. We urge the full Senate to block this bill on its merits when it is considered.”
The overwhelming majority of Montanans, to the tune of 82 percent, believe that end-of-life choices are private decisions that should be made without government interference, according to an April 2013 poll of likely voters conducted by Global Strategy Group.
A memo released by Global Strategy Group reveals that “these data suggest that legislators will pay a real price for supporting efforts to penalize and criminalize doctors for doing so. Ultimately, Montanans support the choice for others, want to be able to make the legal choice for themselves, and believe there is no role for government when it comes to making that choice.”
Nearly three-quarters of voters across party lines oppose HB505, which would send doctors to prison for providing medication that would allow a terminally ill patient to end his or her own life in a humane and dignified way. Sixty seven percent of voters say they would be less likely to vote for a legislator who supported such a proposal, including 53 percent who said they would be much less likely.