| The news today:
The Montana Supreme Court said Thursday that nothing in state law prevents patients from seeking physician-assisted suicide, making Montana the third state that will allow the procedure.
Patients and doctors had been waiting for the state's high court to step in after a lower court decided a year ago that constitutional rights to privacy and dignity protect the right to die.
The Montana Supreme Court opinion will now give doctors in the state the freedom to prescribe the necessary drugs to mentally competent, terminally ill patients without fear of being prosecuted, advocates said.
According to the report, the state's highest court didn't give Montanans the constitutional right to death with dignity, but that there was "nothing in state law or the court's precedent indicated it was against public policy." Politically, the ruling sets up a political row over the practice in the upcoming legislature, where, no doubt, social conservatives will try to ram a bill through outlawing the practice.
Right now, though, physician-assisted suicide is legal in Montana.
Honestly, I have no idea how the issue will play with Montanans. For one, it's a state with a strong libertarian streak -- and who's business is it anyway how someone suffering from a terminal disease chooses to die? On the other hand, social reactionaries are pretty good at marshaling votes and purging the lesser fanatics from the ballot. They will probably have a bloc of support in the legislature.
Just a gut feeling, but I feel that such a bill faces an uphill battle...