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ASSISTED SUICIDE LAWS IN UNITED STATES


Oregon

The state of Oregon has had a physician-assisted suicide law since 1994 which was implemented in 1998. Since then more than 341 terminally ill people have taken advantage of it to hasten their deaths. Read the full details here.


Washington

Washington Rev. Code Ann. § 9A.36.060 – (1) A person is guilty of promoting a suicide attempt when he knowingly causes or aids another person to attempt suicide.; (2) The Washington Death with Dignity Act, Initiative 1000, codified as RCW 70.245, passed on November 4, 2008. This act allows terminally ill adults seeking to end their life to request lethal doses of medication from medical and osteopathic physicians. These terminally ill patients must be Washington residents who have less than six months to live.

Full Washington assisted suicide law at http://wei.secstate.wa.gov/osos/en/documents/i1000-text%20for%20web.pdf


Montana

On December 31, 2009, the Montana Supreme Court ruled in a 4-2 decision that nothing in state law prevents patients from seeking physician-assisted suicide, paving the way for the procedure.

A year previously a Montana 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 the 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 disagreed that the Montana Constitution guarantees the right. But it said in an opinion that "we find nothing in Montana Supreme Court precedent or Montana statutes indicating that physician aid in dying is against public policy."

Late in 2010 it is likely that the Montana legislature will debate the issue and vote whether to repeal the law. To date, Montana laws has no rules and guidelines for the procedure similar to those in Oregon and Washington.

Further details at http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/paperchase/2010/01/montana-supreme-court-rules-physician.php


Vermont

In May 2013 the Vermont state legislature passed the “End-of-Life Choices” law, a provision allowing patients who have been diagnosed by two doctors as having six months or less to live to request a doctor-assisted death. It became the first US political institution to pass such a law, Oregon's and Washington's being voter initiatives.


Other U.S. States

For other American states, the following rules apply:

Ten States – Alabama, Idaho, Massachusetts, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming – have no enactments which criminalize aiding, abetting, assisting or counseling suicide.

• Of these States, the United States contends that case law in Alabama, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Ohio indicates that assisting suicide may nevertheless be prosecuted.

• Some States classify aiding or causing suicide as a separate and discrete offense while others consider aiding or causing suicide a type of homicide or manslaughter.

The following 25 States criminalize aiding, abetting and/or assisting suicide without indicating more specifically what level of conduct is prohibited:

1. Alaska Stat. § 11.41.120 – (a) A person commits the crime of manslaughter if the person . . . (2) intentionally aids another person to commit suicide[.];

2. Arizona Rev. Stat. Ann. § 13-1103 – A. A person commits manslaughter by: . . . 3. Intentionally aiding another to commit suicide[.];

3. Arkansas Code Ann. § 5-10-104 – (a) A person commits manslaughter if: . . . (2) The person purposely causes or aids another person to commit suicide[.];

4. California Penal Code § 401 – Every person who deliberately aids, or advises, or encourages another to commit suicide, is guilty of a felony.;

5. Colorado Rev. Stat. Ann. § 18-3-104 – (1) A person commits the crime of manslaughter if: . . . (b) Such person intentionally causes or aids another person to commit suicide.;

6. Connecticut Gen. Stat. Ann. § 53a-56 – (a) A person is guilty of manslaughter in the second degree when: . . . (2) he intentionally causes or aids another person, other than by force, duress or deception, to commit suicide.;

7. Delaware Code Ann. Tit. 11, § 645 – A person is guilty of promoting suicide when the person intentionally causes or aids another person to attempt suicide, or when the person intentionally aids another person to commit suicide.;

8. Florida Stat. Ann. § 728.08 – Every person deliberately assisting another in the commission of self-murder shall be guilty of manslaughter . . ..;

9. Iowa Code Ann. § 707A.2 – A person commits a class “C” felony if the person intentionally or knowingly assists, solicits, or incites another person to commit or attempt to commit suicide, or participates in a physical act by which another person commits or attempts to commit suicide.;

10. Louisiana Stat. Ann. § 32.12 – A. Criminal assistance to suicide is: (1) the intentional advising or encouraging of another person to commit suicide or the providing of the physical means or the knowledge of such means to another person for the purpose of enabling the other person to commit or attempt to commit suicide. (2) the intentional advising, encouraging, or assisting of another person to commit suicide, or the participation in any physical act which causes, aids, abets, or assists another person in committing or attempting to commit suicide.;

11. Maine Rev. Stat. Ann. § 204 – 1. A person is guilty of aiding or soliciting suicide if he intentionally aids or solicits another to commit suicide, and the other commits or attempts suicide.;

12. Michigan Comp. Laws Ann. § 750.329a – (1) A person who knows that an individual intends to kill himself or herself and does any of the following with the intent to assist the individual in killing himself or herself is guilty of criminal assistance to the killing of an individual, a felony . . .: (a) Provides the means by which the individual attempts to kill himself or herself. (b) Participates in an act by which the individual attempts to kill himself or herself or kills himself or herself. (c) Helps the individual plan to attempt to kill himself or herself or to kill himself or herself.;

13. Minnesota Stat. Ann. § 609.215 – Subdivision 1. Aiding suicide. Whoever intentionally advises, encourages, or assists another in taking the other’s own life [commits a felony].;

14. Mississippi Code Ann. § 97-3-49 – A person who willfully, or in any manner, advises, encourages, abets, or assists another person to take, or in taking, the latter’s life, or in attempting to take the latter’s life, is guilty of a felony...;

15. Missouri Rev. Stat. Ann. § 565.023 – 1. A person commits the crime of voluntary manslaughter if he: . . . (2) Knowingly assists another in the commission of self murder.;

16. Nebraska Rev. Stat. Ann. § 28-307 – (1) A person commits assisting suicide when, with intent to assist another person in committing suicide, he aids and abets him in committing or attempting to commit suicide.;

17. New Mexico Stat. Ann. § 30-2-4 – Assisting suicide consists of deliberately aiding another to take his own life.18;

18. North Dakota Cent. Code § 12.1-16-04 – Any person who intentionally or knowingly aids, abets, facilitates, solicits, or incites another person to commit suicide, or who provides to, delivers to, procures for, or prescribes for another person any drug or instrument with knowledge that the other person intends to attempt to commit suicide with the drug or instrument is guilty of a Class C felony.;

19. New York Penal Law § 125.15 - A person is guilty of manslaughter in the second degree when: * * * (3) He intentionally causes or aids another to commit suicide.;

20. Oklahoma Stat. Ann. Tit. 21, § 813 – Every person who willfully in any manner, advises, encourages, abets, or assists another person in taking his own life, is guilty of aiding suicide.;

21. Oregon Rev. Stat. Ann. § 163.125 – (1) Criminal homicide constitutes manslaughter in the second degree when: . . . (b) A person intentionally causes or aids another to commit suicide[.];  Under the Death With Dignity Act, 1994, a physicians may prescribe a lethal overdose to a dying patient (a resident) who requests it. (ORS 127.800).

22. Pennsylvania Cons. Stat. Ann. § 2505 – (b) A person who intentionally aids or solicits another to commit suicide is guilty of a felony of the second degree if his conduct causes such suicide or an attempted suicide...;

23. South Dakota Codified Laws Ann. § 22-16-37 – Any person who intentionally in any manner advises, encourages, abets, or assists another person in taking or in attempting to take his or her own life is guilty of a Class 6 felony.;

24. Washington Rev. Code Ann. § 9A.36.060 – (1) A person is guilty of promoting a suicide attempt when he knowingly causes or aids another person to attempt suicide.;

25. Wisconsin Stat. Ann. § 940.12 – Whoever with the intent that another take his or her own life assists such person to commit suicide is guilty of a Class H felony.

The following State statutes indicate more narrowly and specifically that aiding or assisting suicide means providing the physical means or participating in a physical act resulting in suicide or causing suicide:

1. Georgia Code Ann. § 16-5-5 – (a) As used in this Code section, the term: (1) “intentionally and actively assisting suicide” means direct and physical involvement, intervention, or participation in the act of suicide which is carried out free of any threat, force, duress, or deception and with understanding of the consequences of such conduct. * * * (b) Any person who publicly advertises, offers, or holds himself or herself out as offering that he or she will intentionally and actively assist another person in the commission of suicide and commits any overt act to further that purpose is guilty of a felony...;

2. Hawaii Stat. § 707-702 – (1) A person commits the offense of manslaughter if: * * * (b) The person intentionally causes another person to commit suicide.;

3. 720 Illinois Comp. Stat. Ann. 5/12-31 – (a) A person commits the offense of inducement to commit suicide when he or she does . . . the following: * * * (2) With knowledge that another person intends to commit or attempt to commit suicide, intentionally (i) offers and provides the physical means by which another person commits or attempts to commit suicide, or (ii) participates in a physical act by which another person commits or attempts to commit suicide.

4. Indiana Code Ann. § 42-1-2.5 – (b) A person who has knowledge that another person intends to commit or attempt to commit suicide and who intentionally does either of the following commits assisting suicide, a Class C felony: (1) Provides the physical means by which the other person attempts or commits suicide. (2) Participates in a physical act by which the other person attempts or commits suicide.

5. Kansas Stat. Ann. § 21-3406 – (a) Assisting suicide is: . . .(2) with the intent and purpose of assisting another person to commit or attempt to commit suicide, knowingly . . . (B) participating in a physical act by which another person commits or attempts to commit suicide.;

6. Kentucky Rev. Stat. Ann. § 216.302 – (2) A person commits a Class D felony when the person, with the purpose of assisting another person to commit or attempt to commit suicide, knowingly and intentionally . . . (b) Participates in a physical act by which another person commits or attempts to commit suicide.;

7. Maryland Code, Criminal Law, § 3-102 – With the purpose of assisting another to commit or attempt suicide, an individual may not: * * * (3) knowingly participate in a physical act by which another individual commits or attempts to commit suicide.19

8. New Jersey Stat. Ann. § 2C:11-6 – A person who purposely aids another to commit suicide is guilty of a crime of the second degree if his conduct causes such suicide or attempted suicide, and otherwise a crime of the fourth degree.;

9. Rhode Island Gen. Laws § 11-60-3 – An individual . . . who with the purpose of assisting another person to commit suicide knowingly: * * * (2) participates in a physical act by which another person commits or attempts to commit suicide is guilty of a felony...;

10. South Carolina Code Ann. § 16-3-1090 – (B) It is unlawful for a person to assist another person in committing suicide. A person assists another person in committing suicide if the person: * * * (2) has knowledge that the other person intends to commit or attempt to commit suicide and intentionally * * * (b) participates in a physical act by which the other person commits or attempts to commit suicide.;

11. Tennessee Code Ann. § 39-13-216 – (a) A person commits the offense of assisted suicide who: * * * (2) Intentionally participates in a physical act by which another person directly or intentionally brings about such person’s own death; and (3) . . . participates in the physical act with: (A) Actual knowledge that the other person intends to bring about such other person’s own death; and (B) The clear intent that the other person bring about such person’s own death.

12. Montana’s enactment falls within this category as well.