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Georgia Euthanasia Laws

Euthanasia is the intentional act of killing someone who no longer wishes to live, such as a terminally ill patient in a great deal of pain, often through physician-assisted suicide. In Georgia, euthanasia laws expressly forbid this type of an act. However, the state does permit the natural process of dying (as opposed to artificial life support) if it is pursuant to a patient's living will.

Learn more about Georgia euthanasia law (which prohibits the act) in the following table and more in-depth description below.

Code Section 31-32-9; 31-32-11
Euthanasia Condoned in Statutes? Mercy killing is not condoned, authorized, or approved nor is any affirmative or deliberate act or omission permitted to end life other than to permit the process of dying.
Effect of Withholding of Life-Sustaining Procedures The making of a living will pursuant to this chapter shall not for any purpose constitute a suicide.

Euthanasia vs Physician Assisted Suicide

The main difference between euthanasia and physician assisted suicide is who is killing the person in pain. Georgia euthanasia laws prohibit both. With euthanasia, a doctor usually provides a lethal overdose of a painkiller, or other drug that will put the patient into a painless sleep. Other methods by non-physicians may be more gruesome. Physician assisted suicide usually involves a doctor providing a terminally ill patient with the means of taking their own life, and allows them to. This may also be a lethal overdose in the form of an injection.

Georgia's Prohibition on Euthansia

Georgia's euthanasia law refers to euthanasia as "mercy killing." The law states that mercy killing is not condoned, authorize, or approved in any way. The only omission allowed to permit someone to die is to remove artificial life support and allow the natural process of dying.

Permitting the Natural Process of Dying

Permitting the natural process of dying normally means removing artificial life support. Artificial life support can come in many forms, including artificial respiration, intravenous nutrients when a person cannot eat, or keeping the heart beating through small electrical shocks. In order to allow the person to die, a physician will remove the processes that are necessary keep the person alive.

Planning for Terminal Illness

In order for a doctor to remove artificial life support and allow the natural process of dying to occur, the patient must have previously consented to removing life support. Normally, the patient is not able to give his or her consent to this, because they are in a great deal of pain, or are unconscious. This means that the patient must have previously given the doctor consent to remove life support while the patient was legally competent. Normally, instructions to remove life support will be included in a person's living will, or the power to remove life support will be included in a power of attorney.

If you would like to know more about planning for the possibility of terminal illness, or artificial life support, there are many estate planning attorneys who may be able to help. Alternatively, you may want to speak with a lawyer who has experience with health care law, who can help you or a loved one create a power of attorney.

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