HELENA, Mont. — Doctors in Montana have helped at least one patient commit suicide since a state court ruled late last year it wasn’t illegal, advocates said Friday, but authorities have no way of knowing how many others there may be, who is doing it or even how it is being done.
The state Supreme Court ruled Dec. 31 that nothing in state law prevents a doctor from prescribing the lethal drugs to mentally competent, terminally ill patients, making Montana the third state to allow physician-assisted suicide.
But the court didn’t determine whether the state Constitution guarantees the right to physician-assisted suicide, raising fears among doctors that they could still be prosecuted.
So if Montana physicians are helping patients kill themselves, they haven’t been publicizing it.
Under new federal health care legislation, they will be slapped with a hefty $2000 consultation fee.