Terminal Missoula Woman Being Denied Physician-Assisted Suicide

by jhwygirl

Missoula resident Janet Murdock, who is in her last painful stages of ovarian cancer, is being denied physician-assisted suicide despite a December Montana District Court ruling, Baxter v. Montana, by Judge Dorothy McCarter which said that Montana residents have a right to assistance when it comes to matters of the “right of a competent terminally (ill) patient to die with dignity.”

Then Attorney General Mike McGrath appealed McCarter’s decision, but the request was dismissed, which means that the current ruling which delineates a fundamental right for Montana citizens to die with dignity stands.

Baxter died the day of McCarter’s initial ruling.

Janet Murdock is 67, terminal, and in hospice care in a stage described by physicians as “actively dying.” Missoulian’s Tristan Scott had a thorough piece in yesterday’s paper detailing Murdock’s current situation.

Compassion & Choices, an organization which supports, advocates and educates on issues of the right to die with dignity, argued on behalf of Baxter in the December court hearing. Legal Director Kathryn Tucker, who argued the case with Montana litigator Mark Connell, spoke on behalf of Ms. Murdock:

“Physicians either have not heard about the decision or do not understand its implications for practice. We must remedy this. Surely in this context ‘justice delayed is justice denied,’ as patients who are currently confronting end-stage terminal illness will not live to see the Montana Supreme Court rule.”

Ms. Murdock had found some relief with the December ruling and subsequent dismissal of McGrath’s appeal, knowing that her right to die when the time came would come with dignity. In a press release from Compassion & Choices, she says that those feeling have turned to disappointment as her physician has denied her the access to the prescriptions she needs. From Scott’s piece in the Missoulian:

“I have suffered so much that I have considered throwing myself into a snowbank to die of hypothermia. Does Montana’s medical community care more about anti-choice extremists who may disapprove, or about people like me who may suffer, and be left to an unbearably painful end of life?”

I will pray for Janet Murdock today. I am sorry that her last days are being spent in horrible unbearable pain, seeking relief, and without the support of her physician. In these last moments, Janet is speaking out and advocating for those that will come after her. There are hearts and hands in this community that support you, Janet.

Godspeed to you, Janet Murdock. May peace come quickly.

As I write this, know that there is at least one other Montanan being denied the same assistance from their physician to help them die with dignity.

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