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Alaska Euthanasia Laws

Death is one of the only sure things in life, but it's also one of the most difficult things to confront. Despite the inevitability of death, though, most states do not allow terminally-ill patients who are expected to die soon to end their lives painlessly on their own terms. There is some confusion between euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide, which are two closely related but different things.

Euthanasia is the act of taking another person's life as an act of mercy, with that person's consent (which is illegal in all states). But physician-assisted suicide, in which terminally ill patients obtain lethal drugs to administer on their own terms, is legal in a handful of states. These states usually require a very short life expectancy before the doctor may prescribe lethal drugs.

In the absence of assisted suicide laws, terminally ill patients who are ready to die may forego life-preserving treatments such as feeding tubes if indicated in a living will. Physicians and others involved in the patient's care will not face malpractice or manslaughter charges as long as they are following official directives.

Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide in Alaska: The Basics

As in all other states, Alaska statute allows patients to decline or withdraw any life-sustaining procedures such as a feeding tube if it is specified in a living will. But any involvement in the assisted suicide of another individual is strictly forbidden and charged with manslaughter.

Additional details of physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia laws in Alaska are listed below.

Code Section 18.12.080(a) and (f)
Euthanasia Condoned in Statutes? Euthanasia or mercy killing not condoned, authorized, or approved by Alaska law.
Effect of Withholding of Life-Sustaining Procedures Withholding or withdrawing any life-sustaining procedures under an order, protocol, or a declaration does not constitute a suicide or homicide
Charge and Penalty for Assisting Another's Suicide A person commits the crime of manslaughter if the person intentionally aids another person to commit suicide. §11.41.120 (a) (2)

Note: State laws may change at any time, usually through the enactment of newly signed legislation or voter-approved ballot initiatives. While we strive to ensure the accuracy of these pages, you also may want to contact an Alaska health care attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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