State Laws on Physician Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia
Currently, there are only a few states in the U.S. that allow physician assisted suicide, including Oregon, Washington, Montana, and Vermont. Physician assisted suicide is also legal in California.Dr. Jack Kevorkian, the most well known advocate of the right to assisted death, passed away on June 3, 2011. In his efforts to stimulate a national debate on the right to physician assisted suicide, Dr. Kevorkian went so far as to videotape the assisted death of his patient. He then intentionally aired it on national television, which ultimately led to him spending nearly a decade in prison for committing an act which is now legal in a few U.S. states.
Dr. Kevorkian said he witnessed his own mother suffer tremendous pain while she was dying from cancer. It was reported he and his sisters asked her doctor to help her pass, but the doctor refused. This experience may have had a great impact on how Jack Kevorkian viewed requests for euthanasia from those suffering a painful and debilitating terminal illness.Those who have watched a loved one suffer through the end stages of cancer, ALS, Parkinsons, AIDS, leukemia, Alzheimers, and similar types of diseases may be concerned about how laws prohibiting euthanasia could affect them in the future.
Right to Die Laws in Other States
An excellent resource on the right to die is
The World Federation of Right to Die Societies. If you want the right to assisted death or euthanasia in the event you suffer a terminal illness, their website provides information on legislative developments in various U.S. states and jurisdictions throughout the world, as well as resources for those with an immediate interest in physician assisted suicide.
End of Life Planning
While the primary focus of Pennyborn.com is estate planning and estate administration, a key element of making an estate plan is executing the forms required to make clear your wishes regarding end of life care, life support, and other medical treatment. To learn about the documents you need to ensure your last wishes regarding medical care are honored, see medical decisions.
California Assisted Suicide Law
Physician assisted suicide or euthanasia is available to residents of the State of California as of June 9, 2016 under the End of Life Option Act which was passed by the California legislature in 2015. To learn more about the requirements for physician assisted suicide or euthanasia in California, go to the Coalition for Compassionate Care of California.
Oregon Assisted Suicide Law
Physician assisted suicide or euthanasia is available to terminally ill residents of the State of Oregon if they meet certain requirements under the Oregon Death with Dignity Act. For more detailed information on physician assisted suicide in Oregon, as well as required end of life forms, visit the Oregon Public Health website.
Vermont Assisted Suicide Law
For information on physician assisted suicide or euthanasia in the State of Vermont under The Patient Choice and Control at End of Life Act, including the requirements that must be met under this state law, visit the Vermont Department of Health.
Washington Assisted Suicide Law
Physician assisted suicide or euthanasia is available to terminally ill residents of the State of Washington if they meet certain requirements under the Washington Death with Dignity Act. A good resource for end of life forms and the requirements to comply with the law is the Washington State Department of Health.This article was updated on July 19, 2016.