Death with Dignity Laws

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Death with Dignity Laws

Brittany Maynard, who was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, made it her mission to educate people on the “right to die” laws, which are also known as “death with dignity” laws. She also exercised her right to die with dignity by moving from California to Oregon because California did not have a “death with dignity” law at the time.

What Are Death with Dignity Laws?

Death with dignity laws allow individuals who are mentally competent and terminally ill to request and receive a medical prescription to end their lives. The individual must be a resident of that jurisdiction to make the request.

Is the Death with Dignity Considered Assisted Suicide?

Yes. Death with dignity is the same as assisted suicide. In both situations, a physician helps the terminally ill individual end their life by prescribing medication that will kill the patient.

Is Assisted Suicide Illegal?

It depends on the state where the individual lives. In 1997, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled states were free to pass laws for and against assisted suicide. It decided there was not a Constitutional right to assisted suicide. Not all states have passed legislation regarding assisted suicide.

Is Assisted Suicide Illegal?

It depends on the state. In the states that have not passed “death with dignity” legislation, assisting someone with ending their own life is considered homicide. The person who assisted with the suicide could be charged in criminal court for the other person’s death.

How Many States Have Death with Dignity Laws?

Currently, four states have passed legislation regarding assisted suicide: California, Oregon, Washington, and Vermont.

Is Each State’s Death with Dignity Law Different?

Yes. In Oregon, a resident has to follow specific steps to end her life. This includes going through a waiting period and signing a release form prior to receiving the medication. It is important to check with each state to verify the requirements.



Are There Any Other States with Similar Laws?

Montana has upheld the right for physicians to prescribe medication to assist with a suicide. However, there is continued legislation to try to prevent this from occurring. New Mexico’s law is more unclear.

Should I Discuss Death with Dignity Laws with a Lawyer?

Yes. Death with dignity laws are complex, and abiding by them can be tricky. To understand more about these laws and how to avoid being charged with homicide, contact a criminal lawyer


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Last Modified: 10-12-2016 09:05 AM PDT

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