Montana Allows Physician-Assisted Suicide

February 18, 2010
Jamie L. Habib
Jamie L. Habib

Volume 22, Issue 1

In a 3-2 decision, the Montana Supreme Court determined that nothing in Montana state law prevents physicians from assisting patients with suicide, making Montana the third state, following Oregon and Washington, to allow this practice.1

In a 3-2 decision, the Montana Supreme Court determined that nothing in Montana state law prevents physicians from assisting patients with suicide, making Montana the third state, following Oregon and Washington, to allow this practice.1

 The ruling effectively gives physicians the right to prescribe medications in lethal doses or lethal combinations for terminally ill, mentally competent patients. Under the law, the patients must self-administer the medications. Physicians are also protected from prosecution for any homicide charge that might be brought against them.

However, the court did not determine whether the Montana Constitution guarantees this right, instead citing that no state law or court’s precedent indicates that this practice is against public policy. By not guaranteeing physician-assisted suicide under the state’s constitution, the door is left open for opponents to challenge this ruling.

References:

Reference
1. Johnson K. Montana ruling bolsters doctor-assisted suicide. New York Times. December 31, 2009. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/01/us/01suicide.html. Accessed January 19, 2010.