Washington, DC – This week, the Montana Supreme Court heard arguments in a case which could make Montana the first state to legalize assisted suicide – and even active euthanasia – by judicial fiat, without the involvement or consent of the state legislature or the people of Montana.
For nearly two years, Americans United for Life (AUL) has taken a primary role in defending Montana’s existing ban on assisted suicide against a challenge brought by national advocacy groups promoting assisted suicide. AUL filed the lead amicus (“friend of the court”) brief in the case, representing 28 bipartisan Montana legislators and arguing that there is no right to assisted suicide under the Montana Constitution.
AUL also coordinated the efforts of more than a dozen groups and individuals who also filed amicus briefs supporting the ban. AUL Senior Vice President of Legal Affairs William Saunders recently participated in moot court preparations of the Montana Attorney General for yesterday’s arguments.
Dr. Charmaine Yoest, President and CEO of Americans United for Life stated, “Suicide advocates disingenuously argue that no one is harmed in assisted suicide. Not only does this claim ignore the fact that physicians are put in a position of killing their patients, but it also ignores the immeasurable damage caused to families of the victims and the inherent and considerable threats it poses to our most vulnerable citizens and to the medical community as a whole.”
In December 2008, a state district court ruled that, under the Montana Constitution, individuals have a right to suicide, and a right to assistance in committing suicide, striking down the state’s longstanding ban on assisted suicide. Notably, the ruling did not place any restrictions on the practice, leaving room for the active euthanasia of patients by their physicians.
Mailee Smith, AUL Staff Counsel, noted, “Suicide advocates conveniently ignore compelling evidence, primarily from the Netherlands, proving that legalized assisted suicide inevitably leads to the active euthanasia of patients – even without their consent. The lower court’s decision places no restrictions on the use of physician-assisted suicide and, if the Montana Supreme Court allows this frightening decision to stand, the active euthanasia of patients will follow.”
The Montana Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling before the end of the year. AUL’s brief in the case is available athttp://www.aul.org/xm_client/client_documents/2009-04-Baxter_v_MT.pdf.
About Americans United for Life
Americans United for Life (AUL) is a nonprofit, public-interest law and policy organization whose vision is a nation in which everyone is welcomed in life and protected in law. The first national pro-life organization in America, AUL has been committed to defending human life through vigorous judicial, legislative, and educational efforts at both the federal and state levels since 1971. The Wall Street Journal has profiled AUL, and PBS’ Frontline program chronicled AUL’s successful efforts in Mississippi.