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Assisted Suicide: Montana Supreme Court Avoids State Constitutional Issue; Holds Consent Defense Available for Homicide Prosecution

Engage, Volume 11, Issue 2

In Baxter v. State, decided December 31, 2009, the Montana Supreme Court did not "constitutionalize" a "right to die" as the lower court had done. Rather, the court held that physicians who prescribe lethal drugs upon the request of their patients are not subject to criminal liability under the "consent defense" to Montana's homicide law. Thus, technically, the court did not "legalize" assisted suicide; rather, someone who assists a suicide simply has a "defense" to homicide...