Monday, January 4, 2010

Montana Mythologizing.

The "pro-life" groups are starting to spin the decision in Montana now that they've had a few days to digest the odd decision. It's no surprise that the hyperbolic Steven Ertelt at LifeNews would exaggerate the ruling in order to continue the miseducation and scare-mongering opponents of aid in dying use to keep their followers in the snow and in check. He knows that once someone experiences the death of a loved one or faces their own death, they are more likely to be open to aid in dying as they contemplate end of life suffering. The more patients know about the dying process, the more open they are to hastening death when the patient is in accute pain.

Note a couple of things:

*the scary needle image;
*the lack of information about Robert Baxter (because he was on the other side he ceases to be a person; compare the absence of Baxter to the ever-presence of Terri Schiavo as a martyr for the "pro-life" cause);
*"Unlimited" assisted suicide is a complete fabrication, the law applies to terminal, suffering patients;
* the steadfast use of "suicide" and "kill himself" despite the court's use of aid in dying;
*the law only prevents doctors from being prosecuted for giving a dying person a lethal prescription, not from "almost any prosecution for engaging in them";
*then he sticks the landing with a solid "slippery slope" argument that all old folks should be scared as hell that they will be coerced into killing themselves because the law has "little or no oversight." Removal from life-sustaining machines is now legal in the US if a patient or their medical proxy ask for it.

Conflating aid in dying with unchecked killing of the elderly or ill is just irresponsible. Aid in dying must be requested by the patient. But who cares about facts when you have an ideology of redemptive suffering to protect, compassion be damned, patients' wishes be damned. The misinformation, scare tactics and lying continue to the detriment of patients' rights and compassionate end of life care.

From the LifeNews newsletter via email:

Montana Supreme Court Makes State Third to Allow Unlimited Assisted Suicide
Helena, MT ( -- The Montana Supreme Court has officially paved the way for the state to become the third to allow the practice of assisted suicide. The high court considered a case from a now-deceased terminally ill patient who wanted the right to kill himself with assistance from a physician.

The high court did not determine if the Montana constitution guarantees a right to assisted suicide but said nothing in state law or the precedent of the court prevented assisted suicide.

“We find nothing in Montana Supreme Court precedent or Montana statutes indicating that physician aid in dying is against public policy,” the high court said in its opinion.

The decision essentially has Montana joining Oregon and Washington as the only three states in the nation to allow assisted suicides. It declared assisted suicide as legal and could prevent doctors from almost any prosecution for engaging in them.

Montana law “explicitly shields physicians from liability for acting in accordance with a patient’s end-of life wishes, even if the physician must actively pull the plug on a patient’s ventilator or withhold treatment that will keep him alive," the court said. However, assisted suicides in Montana will likely go further as the state doesn't have even basic limitations, restrictions or guidelines in place and the ruling could pave the way for the practice of euthanasia with little or no state oversight. Full story at

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