A group working to make it legal in Massachusetts for doctors to prescribe a lethal dose of medication to mentally competent patients with terminal illnesses says it will continue its fight despite a recent legal setback.

Compassion & Choices in its suit filed in 2016 said legalizing the practice, referred to as medical aid in dying or MAID, would help terminally ill patients avoid needless suffering.

A judge in a decision Dec. 31 said the issue should be left up to lawmakers.

“The Legislature, not the court, is ideally positioned to weigh these arguments and determine whether, and if so, under what restrictions, MAID should be legally authorized,” Suffolk Superior Court Judge Mary K. Ames wrote.

Compassion & Choices in a statement Monday said it intends to appeal.

“This setback is disheartening, but we will continue this legal battle,” Dr. Roger Kligler, a Cape Cod physician with terminal cancer and is one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said in the statement.

Second Thoughts Massachusetts, a group that opposes medical aid in dying, praised the decision.

“Disability rights advocates will continue to press the legislature that assisted suicide is just too dangerous,” John B. Kelly, Second Thoughts director, said in a statement to The Boston Globe.

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