Senate Rejects Bill to Criminalize Physician Aid-In-Dying

The bill failed 22-27 on second reading

By Justin Franz

HELENA — Montana’s Senate has rejected a bill that would make it illegal for physicians to prescribe a lethal dose of medication to a terminally ill patient who requests it.

A decade ago the Montana Supreme Court ruled that the patient’s consent can be used as a defense against a doctor charged with homicide in such a case.

Republican Sen. Keith Regier argued Friday the intent of the prescription is to end someone’s life, so it should be illegal. Suicide is not illegal under state law.

Democratic Sen. Dick Barrett said state law respects the rights of the terminally ill to refuse resuscitation, medical treatment and food and water.

He asked lawmakers whether they wanted to make their own end-of-life decisions or have the Legislature make it for them.

The bill failed 22-27 on second reading.