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Indiana Euthanasia Laws

When a loved one has a debilitating, painful, and terminal illness it can be an agonizing and tragic experience. And it is natural to think of ways to ease their suffering. There are even times those thoughts may turn to physician-assisted suicide. But how does the law deal with euthanasia? Here is a brief introduction to euthanasia laws in Indiana.

Euthanasia Laws

The act of helping another person end his or her life is called euthanasia, and usually arises in cases of terminal illness or some other life-limiting condition. Most every state criminalizes physician-assisted suicide; however most states do allow family members or doctors to withdraw a life-preserving apparatus (such as feeding tubes or respirators). Euthanasia statutes in Indiana do not allow deliberate mercy killing, but do permit the removal of "life prolonging" procedures in accordance with a patient's wishes.

Euthanasia Statutes in Indiana

The main provisions of Indiana euthanasia law are highlighted in the following table.

Code Section

16-36-1-13, 16-36-4-19

Euthanasia Condoned in Statutes?

Euthanasia is not condoned or authorized by Indiana law. This chapter does not authorize euthanasia or any affirmative or deliberate act or omission to end life other than to permit the natural process of dying, including the withholding or withdrawing of life prolonging procedures under this chapter.

Effect of Withholding of Life-Sustaining Procedures

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In 1997, the Supreme Court decided that a patient's liberty interest in having the choice to die is outweighed by the government's interest in preserving life and preventing intentional killing. Therefore, under current U.S. law, a person does not have a constitutional right to physician-assisted suicide. The Court, however, made a distinction between asking a physician to end a patient's life (which is not permitted) and refusing or removing life-saving medical treatment (which may be permitted). This gives states the option to make laws treating the two acts differently.

While states are allowed to enact certain laws protecting a patient's right to die, few have done so. In the states that have, doctors are merely permitted to provide lethal doses of certain drugs at their patients’ request, while patients must control the act of administering the doses to themselves. Euthanasia remains a heated topic of debate in American politics, and states continue to question whether to pass similar physician-assisted suicide laws.

Indiana Euthanasia Laws: Related Resources

State statutes governing euthanasia and a person’s right to die are constantly changing. If you would like to consult a lawyer regarding a terminal health care issue, you can contact an Indiana health care attorney in your area. You can also visit FindLaw's Patient Rights section for more general information on this topic.

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