Montana rejects doctor-assisted suicide rules

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Feb. 28, 2011

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Physician-assisted suicide will remain legal yet unregulated in Montana. The state Senate Judiciary Committee considered two bills related to doctor-aided death -- one to regulate the practice and one to ban it -- and tabled both. The committee tabled another bill that would have enhanced criminal penalties for any individual who assists a suicide.

The legislative proposals came on the heels of a December 2009 state Supreme Court ruling that doctors who prescribe life-ending medications for patients with terminal illnesses are not subject to state homicide statutes. Advocates of access to legal aid-in-dying argue that rules are needed to protect patients from abuse and physicians from medical liability and disciplinary sanctions.

The Montana Medical Assn. said it "does not condone the deliberate act of precipitating the death of a patient," but came out against the proposed ban on physician-assisted suicide. The association took a neutral position on the bill to regulate doctor-aided death. Physician-assisted suicide is legal in Montana, Oregon and Washington.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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