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District of Columbia Euthanasia Laws

Although death is one of the few sure things in life, most U.S. states do not allow terminally ill individuals to end their lives on their own terms with the help of a physician. Also, it should be pointed out that euthanasia is different from assisted suicide in that it involves one person taking the life of another -- with their consent -- as an act of mercy.

Euthanasia is illegal in all states, but some states have legalized the limited use of physician-assisted suicide. In states where physician-assisted suicide is legal, physicians prescribe lethal drugs for qualified patients (typically those who are terminally ill and with a short life expectancy), which are administered by the patient.

In states without so-called "death-with-dignity" laws, terminally ill patients who are ready to die may forego life-preserving treatments such as feeding tubes if indicated in a living will.

Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide in the District of Columbia: The Basics

As in most other U.S. jurisdictions, assisted suicide is illegal in Washington, D.C. (euthanasia is illegal in all states). However, a patient or his/her appointed health care agent may authorize the removal of respirators, feeding tubes, and other artificial life support methods.

Additional details of physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia laws in Washington, D.C. are listed below. See FindLaw's Patient Rights section for related articles.

Code Section 7-630; 21-2212; 7-628
Euthanasia Condoned in Statutes?

(Euthanasia not condoned, authorized, or approved)

Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to condone, authorize, or approve mercy-killing or to permit any affirmative or deliberate act to end a human life other than to permit the natural dying process.

Effect of Withholding of Life-Sustaining Procedures Withholding or withdrawing life-sustaining procedures in accordance with the Natural Death chapter shall not constitute the crime of assisting suicide.

Note: State laws are always subject to change, most often through the enactment of newly signed legislation but sometimes through the decisions of higher courts or other means. We strive to ensure the accuracy of these pages, but you also may want to contact a District of Columbia health care attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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District with Columbia Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide Laws: Related Resources

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