Judge Rejects Stay in Assisted Suicide Ruling

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – A state District Court judge has denied a request from the attorney general’s office to stay an order that affirmed a constitutional right to physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients.

District Judge Dorothy McCarter ruled Wednesday that such a stay would “deny the fundamental right of Montanans to die with dignity,” pending what could be a lengthy appeal.

McCarter also says she denied the stay because she believes the state Supreme Court will affirm her decision.

McCarter ruled on Dec. 5 that mentally sound, terminally ill Montanans have a constitutional right to choose to end their lives using medication prescribed by doctors.

The case stemmed from a lawsuit filed by a Billings man, Robert Baxter, who was later joined by four Montana doctors and the national nonprofit rights group Compassion & Choices. Baxter died before learning of McCarter’s initial ruling.