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Personal stories help people understand the importance of Death with Dignity legislation, and how it's being enacted.
Legal in Montana, for now
Aid in dying is legal in Montana as a result of the 2009 Baxter v. Montana lawsuit, but it is constantly under threat by lawmakers who attempt, every session, to remove physician protections.
Physician Protections Bill Does not Pass
Physician Protections Bill Continues to Fail to Pass
Representative Glimm introduces SB290, a bill that would eliminate physician protections and “Prohibit consent as a defense for physician-assisted suicide”. The bill fails to pass the Senate (25-25) and is set aside indefinitely by a vote of 29-21.
Physician Protections Bill Voted Down
Montana State Representative Glimm sponsors HB284 in an effort to eliminate physician protections. The Montana State House of Representatives Judiciary Committee narrowly passes the bill 10 to 9, and the House follows with a 53 to 47 vote to pass. The State Senate votes the bill down 22 to 27 in April.
Anti-Aid in Dying Legislation Gains Momentum
Montana State Representative Tschida sponsors HB536, which 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.”
A hearing takes place and the bill passes with a House vote of 52 to 48. The bill ultimately fails to advance.
Anti-Aid in Dying Legislation Introduced for the First Time
A Death with Dignity Act, SB167, and a bill prohibiting aid in dying are introduced in the state legislature for the first time. Neither passes; the same result occurs in subsequent legislative sessions, in 2013 (SB220) and 2015 (SB202).
Baxter v. Montana
The Montana Supreme Court rules 5-2, in Baxter v. Montana, that nothing in state law prohibits a physician from honoring a terminally ill, mentally capable patient’s request by prescribing medication to hasten the patient’s death. The ruling cited the state’s Rights of the Terminally Ill Act.
Montana’s judicial approach to physician aid in dying remains unique.