End-of-Life Choice, Death with Dignity, Palliative Care and Counseling

Posts TaggedBaxter

Brief Filed in Montana Case

Court to Hear Oral Arguments September 2nd.

Compassion & Choices and four Montana doctors filed their brief with the Montana Supreme Court August 14 in the case of Baxter et al v. Montana. Plaintiff Robert Baxter was suffering from lymphocytic leukemia when the case was filed and died late last year.

The appellees urge the State’s highest court to affirm the lower court’s decision, which found that aid in dying was a fundamental right under the Montana Constitution’s guarantees of privacy and dignity. Compassion & Choices’ Legal Director Kathryn Tucker and well-known Missoula litigator Mark Connell represent the plaintiffs/appellees.

Here are excerpts from the brief:

“Patients will inevitably confront the question of whether to choose aid in dying in different ways. This is as it should be. Because individual lives, deaths and consciences are at stake, each individual bears the consequences of his/her decision. The question before this Court is whether individuals who want aid in dying will be allowed to choose it, or whether the government will be permitted to make the choice for them and flatly ban the option. “

“Deciding how much suffering to endure in the final ravages of terminal illness is without doubt among the most private, personal, and important decisions of a lifetime. The right to choose aid in dying warrants constitutional protection and should not be usurped by the State.”

The Montana Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Wednesday, September 2nd, in Helena. If the Court affirms, it will be the first high court in the nation to find constitutional protection for aid in dying.


Victory for liberty and dignity in Montana!

Liberty and dignity for individuals was affirmed in a Montana courtroom with a victory in the latest case brought by a terminally ill man and four Montana physicians. Compassion & Choices Legal Director Kathryn Tucker teamed with Montana litigator Mark Connell in arguing for Bob Baxter and the physicians.

Judge Dorothy McCarter’s decision holds that mentally competent, terminally ill adults have the right under the Montana Constitution to a peaceful death with dignity.  McCarter’s ruling is an enormous victory for proponents of liberty and choice at the end of life.

The judge’s ruling includes an important piece for doctors:

McCarter’s ruling holds that mentally competent terminally ill Montanans have a right to obtain medications that can be self-administered to bring about a peaceful death if they find their suffering to be unbearable.

“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.

The decision is expected to be appealed.

It’s truly an exciting time for our movement. Just a year ago, Oregon was the only state to have an aid-in-dying law.  There are now THREE states that have the right of choice for dignity at the end of life with the passage of Initiative 1000 in Washington and this decision in Montana.

We are now at the tipping point for expanding choice at the end of life to include aid in dying.