Physician-assisted suicide is legal now in Montana, although the court ruling legalizing it is under appeal.
Doctor-assisted suicide is legal in Oregon and Washington, but Rita Marker of the International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide says what sets the situation apart in Montana is that the ruling has no boundaries or safeguards.
"So you have a situation where even the flimsiest, and really pretty useless, safeguards that are in the Oregon law and in the Washington law, when it goes into effect next month -- those aren't even in place in Montana," she explains. "So you pretty much have something wide open."
Marker believes the law will be used frequently in Montana. "Of all the states, [Montana] has the highest suicide rate in the entire nation," she notes.
She says the court's decision makes it too easy on terminally ill residents who want to die. "They can phone in their request, and then a prescription for a lethal overdose could be mailed to them," Marker adds.
The court's action could be considered judicial activism among other things, according to Marker. "It's judicial activism, judicial malpractice, judicial arrogance -- all of those things," she concludes. "Without question."