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Dec 31, 2009 2:56 PM by Associated Press

Court: Montana law allows doctor-assisted suicide

The Montana Supreme Court says nothing in state law prevents patients from seeking physician-assisted suicide, paving the way for the procedure.

A year ago, a state District Court judge ruled that the state's constitutional rights to privacy and dignity protect the right of terminally ill Montanans to get the drugs needed to die peacefully.

But advocates have said a decision from the state Supreme Court was needed before physician-assisted suicide would be embraced by the medical community.

The Supreme Court decided not to determine whether the Montana Constitution guarantees the right. Instead, it said nothing in state law or the court's precedent indicated it was against public policy.

Oregon and Washington state allow assisted suicides.

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