The act of directly helping someone who no longer wants to live end their life -- or euthanasia -- is illegal in all states, but a few states do allow physician-assisted suicide. While physician-assisted suicide technically is not euthanasia, since the doctor's role is limited to prescribing lethal drugs that the patient takes him- or herself, the term is often used to describe this. In any event, a handful of states do allow doctor-assisted suicide.
However, all states allow patients to be taken off of artificial life support if they consent to it. This requires permission from the patient, usually stated in a living will and often carried out by an individual named in a durable power of attorney.
What Is the Penalty for Euthanasia Under Alabama Law?
Anyone who intentionally causes another individual's death, even if done out of compassion, is considered murder in the state of Alabama (based on common law). This carries a sentence of life in prison or even the death penalty.
The basics of Alabama euthanasia law are summarized in the following chart. See FindLaw's Patient Rights section for related articles.
|Code Section||22-8A-10; 22-8A-9(a)|
|Euthanasia Condoned in Statutes?||Euthanasia not condoned or authorized nor is allowed any affirmative act or omission to end life other than to permit the natural process of dying|
|Effect of Withholding of Life-Sustaining Procedures||Withholding or withdrawal of life-sustaining procedures in accordance with chapter 22-8A shall not constitute assisting suicide.|
Note: State laws are always subject to change, usually through new legislation, ballot initiatives, or rulings from high court judges. Be sure to contact an Alabama health care attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide Laws in General
Most states do not recognize a patient's right to end his or her own life, even though all states allow the withdrawal of life support. It is a highly controversial topic. Opponents of assisted suicide say it is counter to a physician's role as healer, while proponents say the decision to end one's life in the absence of hope (i.e. terminal illness) is a basic human right.
Research the Law
Alabama Euthanasia Laws: Related Resources
Contact a qualified attorney.