March 26, 2005

Euthanasia Consent Law

I'm kicking around a way to write a law controlling euthanasia. It would have to allow for people to consent to being taken off life support (like a living will) but disallow euthanasia in the absence of consent. The centerpiece, the only part that matters, is safeguarding the right to life on the the individual - including the right to end that life. The status quo is sloppy and unwritten.

Moreover, I want to make sure the standard is not "clear and convincing" or "preponderance of evidence" but rather "beyond a reasonable doubt."

Here's what I have so far. It would go under the linked section of the US Code - Civil Rights - and would be numbered ยง 249. I think the name of the section would be "Deprivation of the right to life by euthanasia," or maybe just "Euthanasia." I want to emphasize that assisted suicide and consensual euthanasia would remain perfectly legal.

    a) No person may be deprived of life by euthanasia without consenting to such a procedure. The consent of the person to be euthanized must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Consent is shown through i) express notarized consent to such a procedure by the person to be euthanized; or ii) express oral consent by the person to be euthanized attested to by at least two competent witnesses, who shall have attained the age of 18 and who shall not substantially gain from the death.

    b) Criminal euthanasia is the intentional killing of a human being, who has a seemingly incurable health condition or terminal illness, through suspension of medical treatment, or deprivation of oxygen or of food or of water, or injection of some life-threatening agent, without the proven consent of that human being.

    Whoever is guilty of criminal euthanasia shall be imprisoned not less than one year and not more than five years.

    c) Facilitation of criminal euthanasia is any direct, knowing assistance given to aid in the commission of criminal euthanasia, whether material assistance or a false statement given to falsify consent to euthanasia on the part of the victim.

    Whoever is guilty of facilitation of criminal euthanasia shall be imprisoned not less than one year and not more than five years.

    d) Euthanasia is defined as the intentional killing of a human being, who has a seemingly incurable health condition or terminal illness, through suspension of medical treatment, or deprivation of oxygen or of food or of water, or injection of some life-threatening agent.

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