Euthanasia, or physician assisted suicide, is a touchy subject for many. On the one hand, no one wants to suffer tremendously at the end of their life due to a condition that will inevitably kill them. On the other hand, family members and friends usually greatly value their time with their loved ones, especially when they're ill and likely to pass away soon. On top of that, health care professionals typically enter a medical career to help others, not end their lives. No matter where you stand, it’s important to know the laws in your state before considering helping another person end their life.
The following table explains more about the euthanasia laws in Kentucky.
|Code Sections||Kentucky Revised Statutes Sections:
216.302 – Causing a Suicide, Assisting in a Suicide
311.637 – Withholding or Withdrawal of Life-Prolonging Treatment Under Kentucky Law Not to Constitute Suicide
311.639 – Mercy Killing Not Condoned, Authorized, or Approved
|Euthanasia Permitted?||No, Kentucky law explicitly does NOT condone mercy killing, euthanasia, nor permits any deliberate act to end another’s life, other than to permit the natural process of dying.|
|Effect of Withholding of Life-Sustaining Procedures||Withholding or withdrawal of life prolonging treatment or artificially provided nutrition and hydration doesn’t constitute suicide in Kentucky. To ensure your wishes to receive or not receive life support, you should create and supply your health care facility with an advance health care directive or living will.|
|Criminal Penalties||Knowingly causing a person to commit or attempt to commit suicide using force or duress is a Class C felony. A Class C felony carries a penalty of 5 to 10 years in prison and a fine of $1,000 to $10,000 or double what was gained from the crime, for example if the doctor was paid to help the person commit suicide.
Knowingly or intentionally assisting another to commit or attempt to commit suicide by providing the physical means to do so or participating in a physical act to commit the suicide is a Class D felony, punished by 1 to 5 years incarceration and a $1,000 to $10,000 fine.
|Civil Penalties||A health care professional who assists in a suicide can have their license or certification revoked from by the licensing agency.
A spouse, parent, child, heir, doctor, or commonwealth representative can ask the courts for an injunction to keep a person who’s reasonably believed to plan or be in the course of violating the assisted suicide laws away from the person who would commit suicide.
A wrongful death case could possibly be instituted by the family of the person who was assisted unlawfully in committing suicide.
Dealing with a serious, terminal medical condition is not easy. Taking your life may feel like the best option, but it’s not something you can change your mind about once you do it. The good news is there are support groups you can join and people you can talk to. Please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 if you’re feeling hopeless.
If you’re a medical professional who’s been accused of assisting in the suicide of a patient, you should consult with an experienced Kentucky criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
Note: State laws change frequently, so you should verify these laws by conducting your own legal research or contacting a knowledgeable Kentucky health care lawyer.
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