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Minnesota Euthanasia Laws

Euthanasia, or mercy killing, is the act of taking a person's life who no longer has the desire or will to live, such as a terminally ill cancer patient confined to a hospital bed. While the decision to take one's own life instead of waiting for a serious illness to run its course is a very personal decision, state laws dictate whether it is even legal. The term "euthanasia " technically refers to a third party actively causing the death of someone who has requested it, which is illegal in all states.

The handful of states that have right-to-die laws either allow physicians to prescribe lethal drugs to the patient or allow a legal defense for those who do so. Patients do have the right to refuse medical care, including artificial life-support, but must plan ahead (see Sample Living Will Directive to Physicians ).

Does Minnesota Law Allow Euthanasia or Doctor-Assisted Suicide?

The state of Minnesota does not allow physician-assisted suicide or any kind of euthanasia, which may be charged as a felony and punished with prison and/or a fine. However, state law also acknowledges the federally guaranteed right to be removed from life support and allowed to die naturally. Also, physicians are not held liable if a terminally ill patient dies earlier from pain medication or any other attempt to ease pain.

See the following chart for additional details about Minnesota's euthanasia and assisted-suicide laws, and FindLaw's Patient Rights section for more articles.

Code Section 145B.14; 145C:14
Euthanasia Condoned in Statutes? Euthanasia, mercy killing, suicide, or assisted suicide is not condoned or authorized or approved by Minnesota law.
Penalty for Aiding Suicide Up to 15 years in prison and/or up to $30,000 in fines.
Effect of Withholding of Life-Sustaining Procedures Doctors not held liable if withholding is authorized by a valid living will.

Note: State laws are always subject to change, usually through new legislation, ballot initiatives, or case law. Contact a Minnesota health care attorney or estate planning attorney, or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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