Doctor-assisted suicide now legal in three states

The lede:

A Montana state district judge ruled in December 2008 that mentally competent patients with terminal illnesses have the right to physician-assisted suicide under the state’s constitution. In early January the same judge, Dorothy McCarter, rejected the state attorney general office’s request that her order be stayed until the Montana Supreme Court considers the case on appeal.

McCarter said in a one-page order that issuing a stay of her decision in the case of Baxter v. Montana would “deny the fundamental right of Montanans to die with dignity for a lengthy period of time while the case is being appealed.”

The order means that physician-assisted suicide is now legal in three states: Oregon, Washington and Montana. The state’s new attorney general, Democrat Steve Bullock, plans to appeal the Baxter decision, a spokesman said.

The whole shebang.