Is Human Euthanasia Legal?


Quick Answer

Oregon, Montana, Vermont and Washington state have assisted suicide laws where some kind of physician-assisted suicide is legal in the United States, according to the Euthanasia Research & Guidance Organization. Oregon's law went into effect in 1998, while Vermont's assisted-suicide law was the first such law passed by a legislature.

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Full Answer

As of November 2014, more than 750 patients in Oregon have died under provisions of the state's Death With Dignity Act, a measure on the books since October 1997, as reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. More than 1,170 people were prescribed lethal doses of medications such as secobarbital or pentobarbital. The numbers differ because not everyone who gets the medications takes them.

Montana's Supreme Court ruled in 2009 that patients' rights under the state's Rights of the Terminally Ill Act allow doctors to euthanize people in certain situations, according to the Patients Rights Council. Washington residents can request end-of-life medications from doctors if a patient has less than six months to live. Washington's assisted-suicide law went into affect in 2008, as stated by ERGO.

Vermont's legislation was the first to be approved by a governing body because Oregon's and Washington's were put in place by ballot initiatives from citizens. The End of Life Choices law requires patients be diagnosed by two doctors who both believe the person has less than six months to live, according to ERGO.

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