Montana Judge Upholds “Right to Die”
Physician-assisted suicide, coming to a hospital near you, Montanans.
Judge Dorothy McCarter issued the ruling late Friday in the case of a Billings man with terminal cancer, who had sued the state with four physicians that treat terminally ill patients and a nonprofit patients’ rights group.
“The Montana constitutional rights of individual privacy and human dignity, taken together, encompass the right of a competent terminally (ill) patient to die with dignity,” McCarter said in the ruling.
It also said that those patients had the right to obtain self-administered medications to hasten death if they find their suffering to be unbearable, and that physicians can prescribe such medication without fear of prosecution.
“The patient’s right to die with dignity includes protection of the patient’s physician from liability under the state’s homicide statutes,” the judge wrote.
Under the ruling, the court will not go behind doctors’ decisions about which patients are “competent” and “terminally ill” and thus able to choose death. The state is expected to appeal.