Euthanasia, also called "mercy killing," is the act of helping someone who is either terminally ill or in a great deal of pain end their life. Only a couple of states allow doctor-assisted suicide, but other states allow patients to die naturally in accordance with their stated wishes (usually outlined in a living will). Arizona euthanasia laws prohibit the practice of mercy killing, but allow for the withholding of artificial life support under certain conditions.
Arizona Euthanasia Law
|Code Section||36-3201, et seq. (Chapter 32)|
|Euthanasia Condoned in Statutes?||Euthanasia, suicide, or assisted suicide is not authorized, or approved by Arizona law.|
|Effect of Withholding of Life-Sustaining Procedures||Authorized surrogate or health care provider complying with provisions of chapter are immune from liability.|
Arizona's Health Law does not allow for suicide, assisted suicide, or mercy killing. This means that any person who assists in a suicide, or kills a person out of mercy because they are in severe pain, may be prosecuted for murder. Recently, the Arizona legislature also passed a law defining what "assist" means in "assisted suicide" which makes it easier for prosecutors to convict someone of murder or manslaughter.
Withholding Life Sustaining Procedures
Arizona does permit guardians or surrogates to withhold life support in the event that a person cannot survive on their own. However, it is important to note that the person making the decision to withhold life support must have the authority to do so. Normally, this authority is granted through a power of attorney.
Power of Attorney in Arizona
In order to withhold life support, the person making the decision must have the authority to make the decision from the person who is on life support. Normally the person making the decision is a guardian, or has power of attorney. Power of attorney gives the recipient the authority to make important decisions on behalf of the person granting power of attorney. However, in order to give power of attorney, the person giving that power must be mentally competent. Generally, this means that the person giving the authority has to understand what he or she is doing.
Power of attorney is usually granted before the issue of euthanasia or removing life support arises. Because the person who is on life support is likely not able to consent to the power of attorney, it may be too late to get power of attorney when removing life support is at issue.
State laws are constantly changing. Issues like euthanasia and assisted suicide are hotly contested topics, and their notoriety may push them through the Arizona legislature quickly. If you would like to know more about the law surrounding euthanasia and assisted suicide, there are many attorneys throughout Arizona with health care law experience who may be able to help. These attorneys can also help set up a power of attorney in order to avoid difficulties if removing life support becomes an issue.
Contact a qualified attorney.