Montana Explores End of Life Choices

Affiliate: ACLU of Montana
March 31, 2010 12:00 am

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April 10 conference will examine complexities of physician aid in dying


HELENA, MT — The American Civil Liberties Union of Montana is hosting a one-day conference on physician assistance in dying on Saturday, April 10, at Carroll College in Helena.

“End of Life Choices: A Community Conversation” will focus on the important issue of aid in dying. It will feature both proponents and opponents of physician assistance in death, including representatives from the legal, civil liberties, faith, medical and disability rights communities as well as patients and families.

The conference comes at a time when Montanans are only beginning to understand the impacts of the Dec. 31, 2009 Montana Supreme Court ruling on Baxter v. State of Montana that physician assistance in helping terminally ill patients die is allowed under Montana law.

Opinions on aid in dying are varied and complex. Many people are grappling with defining their position.

It is essential that the public be fully informed about the nuances related to physician assistance in dying prior to the 2011 Montana Legislative Session, where bills on the topic will be hotly debated. This conference seeks to provide the public a solid foundation of understanding the issue.

Keynote speaker Ann Jackson is the former executive director of the Oregon Hospice Association, and has seen physician aid in dying implemented in that state, and the impacts it has had on terminally ill patients. Ann will discuss both the pros and cons of the practice in Oregon.

Other speakers include attorneys on both sides of the Baxter case – Anthony Johnstone and Mark Connell – physicians, religious leaders, and advocates for vulnerable populations.

The conference is funded in part by Humanities Montana, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and by the Institute of Medicine and Humanities.

The conference runs from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Cost is $25, including lunch. Scholarships are available.

To learn more and register: or call 406-443-8590.

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