Baxter v. Montana, Libertarianism, and End-of-Life: The Ripe Time for a Paradigm Shift
Ruble, James H
Journal of pain & palliative care pharmacotherapy 2010 Sep; 24(3): 263-70
Baxter v. Montana (2009 WL 5155363 [Mont. 2009]) is a recent decision from the Montana Supreme Court that provides new legal insight into the societal issue of aid in dying. This case involves interests of persons with terminal illness, medical practitioners, law enforcement, legislative and judicial bodies, as well as the citizens of Montana. A summary judgment ruling at the Montana district court level was based almost entirely on a constitutional fundamental rights analysis. In contrast, the Montana Supreme Court affirming decision was based almost entirely on a statutory rights analysis. Both rulings from the Montana courts support the position that licensed prescribers in Montana who provide aid in dying assistance to terminally ill patients have some immunity from criminal prosecution. Each side in the case argued what they believed to be the intents and purposes of the people of Montana. Baxter v. Montana illustrates different methods to determine the will of the people concerning aid in dying and public policy. This case very subtly suggests a paradigm shift may be occurring in aid in dying policy.
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