Today, the Montana House gave initial approval to a bill that would allow the state to execute doctors for prescribing aid-in-dying medication for a terminally ill adult who requests it to peacefully end their suffering. The Montana House approved the bill, HB 536, by a vote of 52 to 48.
Introduced by Rep. Brad Tschida, HB 536 states: “physician aid in dying is against public policy, and a patient’s consent to physician aid in dying is not a defense to a charge of homicide against the aiding physician.” Deliberate homicide in Montana is punishable by a maximum sentence of death and minimum sentence of 10 years in prison.
Now, the House must vote on HB 536 a second and final time by the March 1 deadline for transmitting legislation to the Senate for consideration this year.
This disgraceful legislation should be called the “Doctor Death Penalty Act” because it would allow the state to execute doctors for doing their jobs of providing relief to terminally ill patients in agony. This law won’t save a single terminally ill patient, and instead threatens the lives of doctors.
HB 536 would overturn the 2009 Montana Supreme Court decision in a case filed by Compassion & Choices on behalf of a terminally ill truck driver from Billings, Bob Baxter. The court ruled in the case, Baxter v. Montana, that: “…we find no indication in Montana law that physician aid in dying provided to terminally ill, mentally competent adult patients is against public policy.”
Nearly 7 of 10 Montana voters (69%) said they support allowing a mentally competent adult who is dying of a terminal disease and in extreme pain to choose to end his or her life in a humane and dignified way.
Yesterday, Leslie Mutchler sent you an email explaining her first-hand experience with medical aid in dying and what it has meant to her family, including her father Bob Baxter’s court battle to authorize the practice and her son TJ’s use of aid-in-dying medication just over a week ago.
Leslie said: “This bill is a slap in the face to my father, who fought to authorize medical aid in dying while he was dying, and my son, who utilized this end-of-life option just last week to end his intolerable suffering from pancreatic cancer. I beg lawmakers to reconsider supporting this horrific bill. As a nurse practitioner, I know it will only cause great harm for terminally ill Montanans and their doctors.”
Help us spread awareness about this reprehensible legislation by forwarding this email to your friends, family and neighbors.