Montana Constitution Has No "Right to Die"

By Margaret Dore
Updated January 20, 2013

In 1972, Montana held its Constitutional Convention.  At that time, the Bill of Rights Committee was charged with drafting a declaration of rights for the new constitution.

On February 2, 1972, the Committee received "Delegate Proposal 103," which proposed "the right to be born and the right to be die."[1] 

On February 3, 1972, the Committee held a hearing on the "right to die."[2]  According to the Committee Minutes, "Mrs. Joyce Franks presented the theory to the Committee that all persons should be able to choose his own death with dignity."[3]  The record also includes her seven page written submission, titled "Bill of Rights Speech."[4]  In this document, she proposed wording for a constitutional right to die; she discussed her father's long and painful death, and the right to die in terms of physician-assisted suicide and/or euthanasia.[5]  Her discussion of physician-assisted suicide included this statement:  
I asked the doctor which of my medicines, and how much, I could allow Dad to take with a reasonable certainty that it would kill him.  The doctor wouldn't tell me.[6]
Other persons also submitted testimony, for and against.[7]

On February 9, 1972, the Bill of Rights Committee rejected Proposal #103, the "Right to Die."[8] 

On February 12, 1972, Joe Roberts appeared before the Committee in support of the right to die.[9]  He noted the reason for the Committee's rejection of the right to die, as follows:

[T]he consensus of the delegates I have talked to indicated that while they were sympathetic to Mrs. Frank's personal tragedy, they were afraid of the implications of stating broadly a Right to Die in the Montana Constitution.[10]
On March 18, 1972, the Committee's "Declaration of Rights" was adopted by the full convention without the right to die.[11]

Today, the Committee's Declaration of Rights is Article II of the Montana Constitution.[12] 

With this history, there is no right to die in the Montana Constitution: it was proposed; advocated by Mrs. Franks and other persons; and rejected. 
* * *

[1]  Delegate Proposal 103 can be viewed at 
[2] See Committee Minutes for February 3, 1972 (listing the "Subject of Hearing" as "18 year old vote, proposal #13 [and] Right to Die"), available at
[3]  Minutes, page 2 (middle of the page), available at

[4]  Mrs. Franks' testimony form and seven page document are available at 
[5]  Id.
[6]  This quote regarding physician-assisted suicide is on Mrs. Franks' page 5A, 3rd paragraph, available at 
[7]  Kenneth Henry wrote: "Euthanasia.  I wish to support the idea." Stella Fila____ opposed "abortion on demand" and "euthanasia."  See this link:
[8]  See Committee Minutes for February 9, 1972, pp. 1 & 2 ("The following decisions were made: . . . #103- Out . . ."), available at
[9]  See Mr. Roberts' testimony form at this link: 
[10]  The above quote is from the first paragraph of Mr. Roberts' written remarks, which can be viewed on the page after the testimony form at this link: 
[11]  To see the text of the Declaration of Rights submitted to the full Convention, along with a preamble, go here:  To see the Convention's roll vote, go here:
[12]  The entire Montana Constitution can be viewed here: