Lawmakers grapple with physician-aided suicide

By

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The Montana Legislature is again being asked to bring clarity to a 2009 court decision that opened the door for physician-assisted suicide.

Supporters of the procedure told a Senate committee Monday that legal protections are needed.

They say Senate Bill 220 would establish legal definitions and clarify that doctors performing the procedure have legal immunity.

The procedure has been subject to various interpretations since the state Supreme Court ruled nothing in state law prohibits physician-assisted suicide. The court it did not rule on whether the practice is constitutionally protected.

Opponents said it is wrong to formally define physician-assisted suicide in law. They argue the court decision did not specifically legalize it, and instead just gave doctors a defense if charged with a crime.

Similar proposals have failed in previous sessions.

©2014 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.