Tennessee Euthanasia Laws

When someone becomes seriously ill, is in pain, and is not expected to live much longer, they may wish to end things on their own terms. But euthanasia, or mercy killing, is not allowed under most state laws -- including those of Tennessee -- no matter how much the patient wants to die. However, this doesn't mean a terminally ill or seriously injured person must be kept alive through artificial means against their will. So while it is legal to withdraw life support in certain situations, it is never legal to actively cause the patient's death.

Assisted suicide is a class D felony in Tennessee, punishable by a two- to 12-year prison sentence and a fine of up to $5,000. According to Tennessee law, one commits "assisted suicide" by:

  • Intentionally providing someone with the means to directly and intentionally take their own life;
  • Intentionally participating in an act that leads directly and intentionally to another person's death; or
  • Providing the means or participating in any act with the knowledge that the other person involved intends to take their own life.

Some additional details about Tennessee's euthanasia laws (or prohibition of such acts) can be found in the following chart:

Code Section 32-11-110; 39-13-216
Euthanasia Condoned in Statutes? Assisted suicide is a class D felony.
Effect of Withholding of Life-Sustaining Procedures Withdrawal or withholding of medical care in accordance with provisions of this Act does not constitute suicide, euthanasia, or homicide.

Note: State laws are constantly changing. We make every effort to ensure that our state law listings are up-to-date, but you may also want to contact a Tennessee health care attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Consenting to the Removal of Life Support in Tennessee

While Tennessee law specifically prohibits any kind of assisted suicide, no matter what condition the patient is in, statute allows for the natural process of dying. But usually, this requires the consent of the patient through a living will and a durable power of attorney for health care. Individuals may state that they don't want to be kept alive through artificial means, allowing the natural process to run its course, but they may still have access to pain medications.

Research the Law

Tennessee Euthanasia Laws: Related Resources

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