Euthanasia concerns the right to end your own life to avoid prolonged pain and suffering. The concept gained national attention in the late 1990's and was associated with the notorious doctor, Jack Kevorkian. The term "euthanasia" is technically defined as the painless killing of a person who is terminally ill or in an irreversible coma state. This act is commonly referred to as a "mercy killing." In today's world most state government outright ban the practice of euthanasia. However, some states do allow a person to end their own life under certain circumstances. Here, we'll take a look at how the state of Utah deals with the subject of euthanasia.
A Quick Look at the History Behind Euthanasia
The U.S. Supreme Court reviewed the issue in the year 1997. The Court created federal case law stating that citizens do not have the right to physician-assisted suicide under the U.S. Constitution. In rendering this decision the Court weighed the liberty interest of the citizenry against the government's interest in preserving life. The Court determined that the state's interest outweighed a citizen's interest in deciding when and how to die. Therefore, states were given the power to ban euthanasia altogether.
Although many states have chosen to criminalize euthanasia there are a few that preserve some patient rights. Some states allow for the passive removal of life-saving devices. Others allow licensed physicians to offer drugs to patients which must be self-administered.
Utah's Version of Euthanasia Laws
Utah deals with this subject under its Advance Health Care Directive Act in Section 75-2a-122 of the Utah Code. Under this section it is illegal to perform a physician assisted suicide, or mercy killing, in the jurisdiction. Yet, patients do have the right to refuse life-saving treatments. Patients (or authorized individuals) can also decide whether to withdraw medical treatment to allow patients to die on their own. These are both very important considerations in end of life law in Utah.
The legal issues covered in end of life law deal with a lot more than the issuance of death certificates. There are many important matters that should be discussed with an estate lawyer early on. If you are considering withholding life-saving procedures in the case of serious illness you should consult with an experienced lawyer who can help you prepare a proper Advance Health Care Directive.