Monday, December 16, 2013

Montana Judge dismisses appeal but addresses the Baxter assisted suicide decision


Link to the media release on the Choice is an Illusion website.


Montana - On December 13, 2013, District Court Judge Mike Menehan dismissed MAAS's appeal with the Montana Medical Examiners Board. The order ruled that the appeal was moot due to the Board's having recently rescinded "Position Statement No. 20." (Order, pp. 5-8). The order also refers to Montana's assisted suicide case, Baxter v. State, as providing a defense to a homicide charge, as follows:

On December 31, 2009, the Montana Supreme Court issued its opinion in Baxter v. State, 2009 MT 449, 354 Mont. 234, 224 P.3d 1211, in which it held that under section 45-2-211 MCA, a terminally ill patient's consent to physician aid in dying constitutes a statutory defense to a physician charged with the criminal offense of homicide. (Order, page 2, lines 17-21).
This part of the order is consistent with Greg Jackson's and Matt Bowman's article, Baxter Case Analysis, Spring 2010 ("the Court's narrow decision didn't even "legalize" assisted suicide"). Available at: Baxter case analysis.

Since Baxter, there have been two bills proposed in the Montana Legislature to legalize assisted suicide. Both bills, SB 167 and SB 220, have failed. Assisted suicide is not legal in Montana.

MAAS is disappointed with the dismissal, but pleased with that the order addresses Baxter, over which there is ongoing controversy as to its meaning. MAAS will likely appeal.


For information about problems with assisted suicide and how it puts people at risk, see: Quick facts about assisted suicide.

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