HELENA — The Montana Senate is deciding to allowing debate on two measures that had been stuck in committee
The chamber voted 31-17 Thursday to advance a measure that would criminalize physician-assisted suicide. The measure had been tied up in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Supporters say House Bill 505 is needed to protect elderly people from potential abuse. Opponents, led by Democrats, argue people have the right to die with dignity when facing certain death.
The bill would penalize the doctors and caregivers who participate in the practice.
The Legislature has struggled with physician-assisted suicide since a 2009 state Supreme Court ruling that said nothing in state law prohibits it. The ruling effectively made Montana the third state to legalize the practice, though the lack of regulations and reporting requirements makes it impossible to know how many physician-assisted suicides have taken place.
The Senate has already killed a bill clarifying in law that it is legal, and establishing formal regulations.
The Senate also decided in a 26-22 vote to advance to the floor a measure that seeks a little more disclosure on campaign materials from so-called "dark money" group.
House Bill 254 requires a disclaimer on materials paid for by anonymous sources.
The issue splits the Republican caucus. Some Republicans joined Democrats in supporting the move to bring it out for debate.
Both are scheduled for full debate on Friday.