Euthanasia, often referred to as "mercy killing," is the taking of another's life who is terminally ill or otherwise ready to die. Only a couple of states allow physician-assisted suicide, but most states allow the withdrawal of life-preserving interventions, such as respirators and feeding tubes. Ohio euthanasia laws allow for this type of withholding of life-sustaining treatments without the fear of homicide charges.
Learn more about Ohio euthanasia laws and related matters below. See FindLaw's Patient Rights section for related articles.
|Code Section||2133.12(A), (D)|
|Euthanasia Condoned in Statutes?||Euthanasia, mercy killing, or assisted suicide is not condoned or authorized by Ohio law.|
|Effect of Withholding of Life-Sustaining Procedures||Death of any patient resulting from withholding life-sustaining treatment does not constitute suicide, murder or any homicide offense for any purpose.|
Difference Between Euthanasia and Withdrawing Life Support
Euthanasia differs from withdrawing life support both practically and legally. Euthanasia generally encompasses a mercy killing and assisted suicide. A mercy killing normally means that a doctor causes the death directly, either by a lethal injection, compassionate drug overdose, or other means. Mercy killing can also happen by more gruesome means if not performed by a professional. Assisted suicide means that the doctor or other person provides the patient with the means to take their own life, but does not perform the killing themselves. Both are forms of euthanasia in Ohio.
Withdrawing life support is also known as allowing a natural death. Sometimes, after an accident or severe illness, a patient is put on life support in the hopes that their body will heal and the life support can be removed. However, after some time it may become evident that no matter how long the person stays on life support, they will never recover on their own. In this instance, Ohio will allow the doctor to remove the life support, and allow the person's body to die naturally. This may occur in a number of ways, including removing artificial respiration or intravenous nutrients.
Euthanasia in Ohio
Ohio prohibits euthanasia, and anyone who performs this type of mercy killing may be prosecuted for murder or another homicide.
Withdrawing Life Support in Ohio
Ohio health care law states that the death of a patient after removing life support treatment does not constitute murder or homicide. However, in order to do this, the patient has to have consented to removing the treatment. Often times, if the patient is on life support, they don't have the capacity to consent, so they will have had to provide consent in a health care power of attorney, living will, or other document.
Planning for End-of-Life Events
As previously stated, in order to remove life support, doctors need the consent of the patient. A person in life support is rarely in a position to provide consent, so they will have had to provide consent previously. If you would like to provide consent to removing life support before that becomes an issue, you may want to speak with an attorney who has health care law experience, or estate planning experience. These lawyers will be able to help you draft a health care power of attorney, a living will, or another instrument that states your wishes in the event that you are placed on permanent life support and cannot communicate with the doctors.
Contact a qualified attorney.