The Associated Press is reporting today that the Montana Supreme Court has ruled that nothing in the state law can keep patients from seeking physician-assisted suicide.:
A year ago, a state District Court judge ruled that the state’s constitutional rights to privacy and dignity protect the right of terminally ill Montanans to get the drugs needed to die peacefully.
But advocates have said a decision from the state Supreme Court was needed before physician-assisted suicide would be embraced by the medical community.
Americans United for Life, a nonprofit, public-interest law and policy organization, weighed in on this case back in September. President of AUL, Dr. Charmaine Yoest, said in a press release,:
“Suicide advocates disingenuously argue that no one is harmed in assisted suicide. Not only does this claim ignore the fact that physicians are put in a position of killing their patients, but it also ignores the immeasurable damage caused to families of the victims and the inherent and considerable threats it poses to our most vulnerable citizens and to the medical community as a whole.”
AUL’s staff counsel Mailee Smith also notes,“Suicide advocates conveniently ignore compelling evidence, primarily from the Netherlands, proving that legalized assisted suicide inevitably leads to the active euthanasia of patients – even without their consent.”
The AP further reports the judges’ written opinions on the final ruling.:
“In physician aid in dying, the patient, not the physician, commits the final death-causing act by self-administering a lethal dose of medicine,” Justice William Leaphart wrote for the court.
Justice John Warner, serving his last day on the court, wrote in a separate concurring opinion that the court decided to leave the constitutional issues alone because addressing them was not necessary.
Justice James Nelson, a more liberal member of the court, said he would have extended the constitutional right to the procedure as the lower court had.
Two judges dissented from the decision, saying the court was reversing long-standing public policy.
“Until the public policy is changed by the democratic process, it should be recognized and enforced by the courts,” wrote Justice Jim Rice for the minority. “In my view, the court’s conclusion is without support, without clear reason, and without moral force.”