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Montana Supremes Could Find a Constitutional Right to Assisted Suicide

Posted Sep 1, 2009 11:52 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The Montana Supreme Court will hear arguments Wednesday in a case asserting the state constitution protects the right to physician-assisted suicide.

Lawyers on both sides say there’s a good chance the high court will be the first in the nation to find a constitutional right to die, the New York Times reports. Two other states, Washington and Oregon, established a right to physician-assisted suicide in voter initiatives.

The case was brought on behalf of Robert Baxter, a 76-year-old truck driver who died last year from lymphocytic leukemia. Baxter sued because he wanted to die with the help of a physician.

Baxter's case is based on “a free-spirited, libertarian-tinctured state constitution written in 1972 at the height of a privacy-rights movement," the story says.

One provision of the state constitution reads, “The dignity of the human being is inviolable.” The statement often leads to rulings endorsing privacy rights and personal liberty over other concerns, according to the story.

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