( - promoted by Jay Stevens)
[Full disclosure: I am the Online Community Builder for Compassion & Choices]
Montana is preparing to have an important public policy discussion about the rights of terminally-ill citizens to request medication from their physician to achieve a peaceful and dignified death at the time of their choosing.
Compassion & Choices-Montana believes its extremely important to provide the public with accurate information on this issue. Thankfully, so does the Missoula Independent:
Legislators on both sides are eager to clarify the Montana Supreme Court's December ruling that gave physicians a legal defense in prescribing life-ending medication to terminally ill, mentally competent patients. Proponents point to legislation already on the books in Oregon and Washington that provides strict criteria for the practice-psychiatric evaluations, written consent observed by an impartial witness, etc.-as a good starting point for building on the court's decision.
Hinkle's talking points are, shall we say, less researched. He's claimed for weeks that physician-assisted suicide will wrongfully endanger patients who might actually survive their illness. Even patients with stable HIV and years to live could receive a prescription, he says, and he's gone on record stating that once medication is prescribed, a patient's life is out of his or her hands. Death is under the control, he says, of a doctor or family member.
Hinkle couldn't be more wrong. Physician-assisted suicide is a voluntary alternative for those suffering extreme pain or indignity at the end of life. In 2009, doctors in Oregon prescribed life-ending medication to 95 patients, only 53 of whom elected to take it. The majority of those were already in hospice care.
Fortunately, Montana residents can get accurate, factual information on Death With Dignity, as Hamilton resident Pat Tucker notes in her Letter to the Editor of the Queen City News.
Terminally ill, mentally competent adults are very capable of making informed decisions about their care. They don't need the government telling them how to live and they definitely don't need the government telling them how to die.
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