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Missoulian: Guest Column: Maintain death with dignity

An excerpt from the Missoulian guest column, “Maintain death with dignity,” by Mark Connell, published February 23, 2021:

“Since 2008, our state courts have recognized Montanans’ fundamental right of ‘death with dignity,’ also known as ‘medical aid in dying.’ That’s the right of a terminally ill patient, one who’s experiencing intractable suffering as death approaches, to seek a prescription of medication to hasten the dying process, end the suffering, and bring about a peaceful, compassionate close to life…

Polls show that nearly 70% of Montanans support aid in dying as a protected right. And we’re not alone on the issue, as a growing number of our sister states and other countries extend similar guarantees to their citizens.

Now, however, some members of the Montana legislature want to extinguish this right entirely and threaten our doctors with life in prison — or potentially even the death penalty itself — for helping people under their care achieve a compassionate death through aid in dying…

This is not a partisan issue, or at least it shouldn’t be. Harkening back to President Reagan’s witticism, is it really ‘helping’ a dying man or woman for the government to foreclose the option of medical aid in dying for them at a time they may be crying out for it? Is seeking a peaceful end to suffering something the criminal law should prohibit and punish? Should our doctors, providing advice and comfort in our last dying moments, be criminally prosecuted for helping us in this final, essential way? One can only hope not.”