Monday, December 25, 2023

Good News Worth Remembering

By Margaret Dore, Esq.

In 2010, Kathryn Tucker, Director of Legal Affairs for Compassion & Choices, published an article in the Idaho Bar Association magazine, The Advocate. The article referred to assisted suicide and euthanasia as “aid in dying,” which Tucker claimed was legal in Idaho.  

The reaction to Tucker's claim was swift and brutal. In the next issue of The Advocate, there were nine letters against her. The writers included a former Chief Justice of the Idaho Supreme Court, Robert E. Bakes, who characterized her article as a “gross misunderstanding of Idaho law.” Another writer termed the article "malarkey."

On April 5, 2011, Idaho Governor Butch Otto signed Senate Bill 1070 into law. The bill explicitly provided that causing or aiding a suicide is a felony. 

The bill supplemented existing Idaho law, which already imposed civil and criminal liability on doctors and others who cause or aid a suicide. The bill's "Statement of Purpose" said: "This legislation will supplement existing common law and statutory law by confirming that it is illegal to cause or assist in the suicide of another."

The vote to pass the new bill was overwhelming: the Senate vote was 31 to 2; the House vote was 61 to 8. The new law was codified as Idaho Code Ann. Section 18-4017 and went into effect on July 1, 2011.

The effort to treat assisted suicide and euthanasia as legal in Idaho was stopped in its tracks.