International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
(Update: The vote to send the bill to the senate was tied 50 to 50 on Friday March 13. The bill may be dead.)
For the past few years Montana has faced a confusing situation with respect to assisted suicide. In 2009, the Baxter court decision declared that Montana citizens had a right to assisted suicide. This decision was appealed to the Supreme Court in Montana that decided that Montana citizens do not have a right to assisted suicide. The Court did not overturn the statute protecting Montana citizens from assisted suicide, but the Court did grant a tightly worded defense of consent, if a physician was prosecuted for assisted suicide.
Therefore physician-assisted suicide remains illegal in Montana, if prosecuted, a physician could use a defense of consent.
Montana already has a high suicide rate, and that in Oregon, which allows assisted suicide, the suicide rate is much higher than the national average.
Senate Bill 202, a bill that would have legalized assisted suicide in Montana was defeated last month at the Senate Judiciary Committee.