09 January 2009

Judicial Activism Strikes a Second Time in Montana

Last December, a Montana District Court judge legalized assisted suicide in the state of Montana. (See my post on that here.) On Wednesday, the same judge refused to issue a stay of the decision pending the outcome of an appeal to the Montana Supreme Court. (A stay would prevent the decision from coming into effect until the appeal was decided on.) The Attorney General for Montana requested that the decision be suspended pending appeal. (See story here.)

However, traditionally in the court system, controversial decisions are stayed until the higher court makes a decision on it. By ignoring that, Judge Dorothy McCarter is deciding that she has the right to force on Montanan's whatever she wants, irrespective of precedent or the rule of law. The people of Montana have not voted to legalize assisted suicide, and the elected legislature has not passed a law permitting assisted suicide- this one woman had made that decision for the entire state! If that doesn't smack of judicial activism, what does?

So, as of last Wednesday, the people of Montana have a "right" to assisted suicide. These are dark, dark days for Montana. Unlike Oregon and Washington who can at least claim to have some safeguards to protect vulnerable people (though we know how well those work) this decision by Judge McCarter provides for no safeguards, no process by which they can even claim to attempt to protect vulnerable people. Until and unless the Montana Supreme court throws out this decision, the elderly and persons with disabilities in Montana are in great danger from their doctors and even their families. If you are tired of dealing with Mom's dementia, and convince her doctor (or, her doctor convinces you) Mom can be put down like a dog, thanks to Judge McCarter. No one can ask any questions about why it happened, or if Mom even requested it, because according to Baxter v. Montana, physician assisted suicide is legal. Feeling the pinch of the recession, and tired of waiting for your inheritance and Dad lives in Montana? No problem, just have the doctor do away with Dad and that inheritance is yours, courtesy of Judge McCarter and Baxter v. Montana. Maybe you don't have a desire to see the vulnerable members of your family killed, but are you sure about your doctor?

I am sure that some of you who just read that paragraph are now thinking I am, at the very least exaggerating and very possibly just trying to stir up the pot. Nothing could be farther from the truth. These sorts of things happen routinely in jurisdictions that have legalized assisted suicide (and even in jurisdictions that haven't.) It was reported yesterday that Martin Ryan was starved to death over 26 days while staying in a hospital. Oh, and he had Down's syndrome. In the UK a few weeks ago, two paramedics responded to the equivalent of a 911 call from Barry Baker having a heart attack. Mr. Baker was also disabled. He collapsed before they arrived, but the line to the 911 service was still recording. That tape picked up the paramedics saying that he was "not worth saving." They decided (and remember, this was recorded) that they would just tell the hospital he was dead when they arrived.

We in the Western world live in a society where the culture of death reigns supreme. Judge McCarter's actions show that she is a member of the culture of death and will do whatever is necessary, even defying tradition and precedent to ensure her ideology wins out. That is not the role of the judiciary. The role of the judiciary is to interpret the law made by the duly elected legislature/parliament/commons/congress of the land. They are not to make law, and yet that is exactly what Judge McCarter has done.

The deaths that will come in Montana as a result of her decision are directly attributable to her, but she will face no consequences here on Earth for it. Instead she will be, and is being, lauded for her bold and courageous decision.

What a sick, sick world.

H/t to Disability Matters and Secondhand Smoke

1 comment:

Virginia Beach said...

Sarah, spot-on. We need thousands more like you. Thanks for doing your part in getting those thousands mobilized!!!