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C&C Magazine

Patients, not government, should decide life issues

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, February 1, 2011
CONTACT: Steve Hopcraft, 916/457-5546; [email protected];
Jessica Grennan, 406/552-2916; [email protected]

Published Sunday, January 30, 2011

Washington and Oregon currently are the only states that have assisted-suicide
laws. A ruling by our Supreme Court effectively made Montana the third state in
which physician-assisted suicides could be exercised. Unfortunately, this ruling
still leaves physicians who might otherwise choose to assist in such an endeavor
fearful of being prosecuted either in criminal or civil courts. In my late 60s, I am
healthy and in reasonably good shape physically and mentally. However, none of
us knows what the future may bring.

Two competing bills are before the Legislature. The first bill, sponsored by Sen.
Anders Blewett, would establish guidelines requiring terminally ill adult patients to
receive written opinions from two physicians before being prescribed lethal
medication. It also contains requirements that would minimize the potential for a
mentally incompetent person or an older patient from being exploited for monetary
reasons. This is a thoughtfully composed piece of legislation that I heartily

The other bill sponsored by Sen. Greg Hinkle would prohibit assisted suicides
completely. This bill really galls me, because I do not think that government
should have any role in telling mentally competent adults how to make their own
medical decisions — establishing safeguards, yes; banning, absolutely not!
Should it come to that, shouldn’t I — not the government — have the right to make
the decision to either prolong my life or end needless suffering in a dignified,
humane and nonviolent manner?

Woody Henry

For more information please visit www.compassionandchoices.org/montana