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South Carolina Euthanasia Laws

The thought of a loved one having a debilitating, painful, and terminal illness is almost too much to bear. And sometimes we can’t help but think of ways in which we can ease or end their suffering. This idea of killing a hopelessly sick person or permitting their death is legally known as euthanasia. States are allowed to prohibit euthanasia, but may treat it differently. Here are the basics of euthanasia laws in South Carolina.

Euthanasia Laws

Euthanasia is also referred to as physician-assisted suicide or mercy killing, and normally arises in the context of a terminal illness or similar life-limiting condition. Just about every state forbids euthanasia to some extent, and likewise, it is not permitted under South Carolina’s euthanasia statutes. Doctors are only sanctioned to allow the natural course of dying to occur.

Euthanasia Statutes in South Carolina

The chart below highlights some of South Carolina euthanasia laws.

Code Section

South Carolina Code of Laws 44-77-110, et seq.: Death With Dignity Act

Euthanasia Condoned in Statutes?

Euthanasia or mercy killing is not condoned or authorized by South Carolina law, nor is any act or omission other than to allow the natural process of dying.

Effect of Withholding of Life-Sustaining Procedures

Effectuation of health care power of attorney or execution of declaration does not constitute suicide for any purpose.

The United States Supreme Court decided in 1997 to allow anti-euthanasia statutes, ruling that state’s interest in preserving life and preventing intentional killing outweighs a citizen’s liberty interest in having the choice of when and how to die. Due to that ruling, there is no constitutional right to physician-assisted suicide. However, the Court did distinguish between proactively ending a patient's life, which is not allowed, and passively removing or refraining from life-saving medical treatment, which may be allowed. Likewise, South Carolina permits withholding life-sustaining procedures in certain circumstances.

In the very few states that have enacted laws protecting a patient's right to die, doctors are only allowed to provide lethal doses of certain drugs at their patients’ request. It is the patients themselves who must control the act of administering doses of the drugs to themselves.

South Carolina Euthanasia Laws: Related Resources

The subject of euthanasia and the right to die remains a divisive issue in health law and in society at large, and state statutes restricting a person’s right and choice to die are subject to change. For more articles and resources on this topic, you can visit FindLaw's Patient Rights section. If you would like legal assistance regarding a terminal health care matter, you can contact a South Carolina health care attorney.

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