House Defeats Right-to-Die Bill Allowing Doctor Prosecution

The House's 50-50 vote Friday defeated the measure

By Justin Franz

HELENA — The House has defeated a bill that would make it illegal for doctors to prescribe life-ending medication to terminally ill patients who ask for it.

The House’s 50-50 vote Friday defeated the measure. Three Republicans changed their votes from Thursday’s 51-49 endorsement. Reps. Bruce Meyers and Jeffrey Welborn switched their “yes” votes to “no” while Rep. Art Wittich reversed his “no” vote.

Under the measure, physician-assisted suicide would have become a crime punishable by prison time and fines.

The Legislature has struggled to clarify whether the practice is legal or illegal since the Montana Supreme Court ruled in 2009 that nothing in state law prohibits physicians from giving aid in dying. The high court said doctors could use a patient’s request for the medication as a defense against any criminal charges.

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