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Montana has taken a big step forward in passing a bill that would protect Montanan's from assisted suicide.

Today the Montana House passed bill HB 477, by a 51 to 48 vote. HB 477 would include physician-assisted suicide within the current state law that prohibits “aiding or soliciting suicide.”

On Friday, HB 477 had a tie vote (50 to 50). On Saturday, the bill was brought back for reconsideration and today it passed.

HB 477 will now go to the Montana Senate.

For the last few years Montana has had confusion with respect to assisted suicide. In 2009, the Baxter lower court decision stated that Montana citizens had a right to assisted suicide. Baxter was appealed to the Montana Supreme Court that decided Montana citizens do not have a right to assisted suicide. The court did not overturn the assisted suicide statute, but the court did grant a tightly worded potential defense of consent, if a physician was prosecuted for assisted suicide.

Therefore physician-assisted suicide remained illegal in Montana, since prosecution for assisted suicide remained possible.

Senate Bill 202, a bill that would have legalized assisted suicide in Montana failed to pass in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Reprinted with permission from Euthanasia Prevention Coalition. 

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