Last week we linked to an editorial by Barbara Coombs Lee, president of national nonprofit Compassion & Choices, titled "How Montana Is Revolutionizing the Movement For End-of-Life Choice."
Bradley D. Williams, coordinator of Montanans Against Assisted Suicide, took exception to the post and wrote a rebuttal.
Williams' letter appears in its entirety after the jump. If you want to read Coombs Lee's column at Huffington Post, it's here.
I was appalled to see Skyler Brownings's uncritical posting of
Barbara Coombs Lee's propaganda piece about assisted suicide in
Montana. ["Montana leads the way in end-of-life choice"]. Coombs Lee
is the President of Denver-based Compassion & Choices, formerly known
as the Hemlock Society.
First, to be clear, assisted suicide is not legal in Montana. The
Montana Supreme Court Baxter decision merely gave doctors a potential
defense to prosecution for homicide. This defense is not
guaranteed. Baxter did not address, let alone reverse prior caselaw
allowing doctors and others to be sued for causing or failing to
prevent a suicide. Montana attorney Greg Jackson, with attorney Matt
Bowman, states: "After Baxter, assisted suicide continues to carry
both criminal and civil liability risks for any doctor, institution,
or lay person involved."
Second, legalization is a recipe for elder abuse. Legalization
would allow heirs and others who will benefit financially from an
older person's death to legally pressure and abuse that person to end
his or her life. This is contrary to Montana official public policy
to prevent elder abuse.
Third, legalization will empower healthcare providers, including the
government, to steer individuals to suicide. This has happened in
Oregon where assisted suicide is legal. The most well known cases
involve Barbara Wagner and Randy Stroup. Each wanted treatment. The
Oregon Health Plan offered them coverage for suicide instead. See
e.g. Susan Donaldson James, "Death Drugs Cause Uproar in Oregon,"
ABC News, August 6, 2008.
For factual information about assisted suicide, please visit our
website at www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org Please sign our
petition! Donations are appreciated!
Bradley D. Williams
Montanans Against Assisted Suicide & For Living with Dignity