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Senate committee rejects a bill that would make physician assisted suicide a crime


HELENA, Montana — A state Senate committee has rejected a bill that would make it illegal for doctors to prescribe life-ending drugs to terminally ill patients.

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports ( ) the Senate Judiciary Committee tabled House Bill 477 on a 7-5 vote on Tuesday. The bill had passed the House 51-48.

Under the bill, doctors could be found guilty of assisting suicide and sentenced to up to 10 years in prison and up to $50,000 in fines.

The Legislature has struggled to clarify whether the practice is legal or illegal since the Montana Supreme Court ruled in 2009 that nothing in state law prohibits physicians from giving aid in dying. The high court said doctors could use a patient's request for the medication as a defense against any criminal charges.

Information from: Bozeman Daily Chronicle,

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