Montana May Be 1st to Make Suicide a Right

If affirmed, state would be first to guarantee right constitutionally
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 1, 2009 11:15 AM CDT
A Montana road. The state's far flung populace has little access to even the most basic health care.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – The Montana Supreme Court tomorrow will take up the issue of—and likely affirm the right to—assisted suicide, the New York Times reports. The case is being brought on behalf of Robert Baxter, who died last year from leukemia after fighting for the right to end his own life. “He yearned for death,” his daughter says. Montana’s high court has a history of holding up rights to privacy and personal choice outlined in its 1972 constitution.

If it does so here, it would make make Montana the first state to sanction assisted suicide in its constitution. Similar laws in Oregon and Washington came about through voter referendums. Arguments against assisted suicide in Montana are myriad—some say health care for underserved rural residents should be addressed first, and religious groups are up in arms. Though not all: "I don’t think God created us to be string puppets,” says one Episcopal deacon.