Lawmakers Consider Criminalizing Assisted Suicide
State lawmakers are considering a bill to criminalize doctors who assist patients in dying, putting terminally ill patient’s right to die in jeopardy. T.J. Mutchler, who ended his own life on February 19 after a two year battle with pancreatic cancer, did so on his own terms. He refused chemotherapy and opted instead for a prescription that he could take when he was ready to die.
That choice was made legal in 2009 when Mutchler’s terminally ill father Bob Baxter sought a similar prescription from his doctor. The Montana Supreme Court ruled in Baxter’s favor. Montana legislators are now considering a bill that would not only eliminate that option, but would expose doctors to prosecution. House Bill 536 would expose doctors to charges of homicide for assisting in a patient’s death. Similar legislation is in place in as many as 44 states.