Robert Baxter, a Marine veteran, outdoorsman and career long-haul truck driver was suffering from lymphocytic leukemia when he, along with four Montana doctors and Compassion & Choices, filed a case seeking recognition that aid in dying is protected by the Montana Constitution’s guarantees of privacy, dignity and equal protection.
It was his case that enables physicians to provide aid in dying for all Montanans.
On December 5, 2008, Mr. Baxter died of his illness just hours after District Court Judge Dorothy McCarter ruled that, “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.” The Montana Attorney General appealed Judge McCarter’s ruling.
On December 31st, 2009, the Montana Supreme Court ruled in a 5-2 vote that physicians can provide aid in dying under state law. There is no further appeal from this decision, as the Montana Supreme Court is the highest court available to decide state issues.
Montana became the third state to authorize aid in dying.