Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Best Way to Limit Access to Legal Service? Intimidate Doctors.

From the conservative, "pro-life" site LifeNews, a new effort to deny the recent court ruling in Montana and to limit it's decision by intimidating doctors with threatened law suits. Just disagreeing with a law - because you don't understand it or feel your faith should be the law of the land - doesn't make you a righteous vigilante, justified in defying the law or blocking access to services with intimidation. Ask Scott Roeder. (And before I get all of Jill Stanek's readers yelling at me, I'm not saying that ADF threatened murder. Just bullying and career-altering lawsuits. All for their opposition to a private decision that should be made between a doctor and their patient and all because, you know, the dying and women aren't smart enough to make their own decisions but ADF is.)

A Montana pro-life group has issued a new analysis saying the decision by the state's Supreme Court to allow assisted suicide there didn't legalize the practice. The Montana Family Foundation says doctors who engage in the practice may still be charged for homicides there despite the Montana Supreme Court's decision in the Baxter case.

The pro-life group hired two attorneys, Greg Jackson of Montana and Matt Bowman with the Alliance Defense Fund, to analyze the controversial decision.

"The purpose of the analysis is to place the decision in perspective, and to dispel much of the misinformation surrounding the issue," said Jeff Laszloffy, president of the Montana Family Foundation.

"Contrary to recent headlines, the Supreme Court did not legalize physician assisted suicide. Medical personnel and institutions must understand that if they participate in assisted suicide they expose themselves to potential civil and criminal liability, and may even be charged with homicide," the pro-life former state legislator added.

"Within a very narrow set of constraints, if a doctor assists on physician assisted suicide and they're brought up on a murder charge, they might be able to make the claim of consent," Laszloffy said. "But if it falls anywhere outside that narrow set of parameters, it quickly goes over to a murder charge."

Kathryn Tucker, director of legal affairs for Compassion & Choices, the major pro-euthanasia and pro-assisted suicide group, told KAJ-18 television that the only objective of the analysis is to confuse physicians and patients.

"The obvious objective of the analysis is to create fear among physicians," she said. "This is shameful. It may prevent suffering dying Montanans from having this compassionate option."

"There is a safe harbor created for physicians who prescribe medications to a mentally competent, terminally ill patient, which the patient can consumer to bring about a peaceful death," Tucker said. "And a physician operating within those boundaries has no need to fear criminal prosecution."

While Tucker says the decision is clear, Laszloffy says the Montana legislature has room to put more restrictions on assisted suicide in place.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition sent LifeNews.com a statement over the weekend saying it and Montana State Senator Greg Hinkle agree with the new analysis.

They said the ruling in Baxter v. State, did not “legalize” physician-assisted suicide in Montana and Baxter instead held that a physician accused of homicide for killing his or her patient would be allowed to assert a “consent of the victim defense.”

A new article in the Missoulian newspaper indicates at least one person has died from an assisted suicide since the Baxter decision last year.

The Montana Supreme Court decision made the Rocky Mountain state the third in the nation, after Oregon and Washington, to allow assisted suicides.

Related web sites:
Montana Family Foundation - http://www.montanafamily.org
New analysis - http://www.montanafamily.org/portfolio/pdfs/Baxter_Decision_Analysis_v2.pdf

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