Assisted Suicide States 2021

Assisted suicide, also called physician-assisted suicide or medical aid in dying, allows someone to take their own life with someone else's assistance, usually a doctor. Assisted suicide occurs when someone helps a person with a terminal illness, such as cancer, take their own life to avoid suffering.

Death with Dignity Laws

States that allow assisted suicide have death with dignity laws. These states are also called "right to die states.

States with these laws make it legal for adults with terminal illnesses to receive a prescription medication to assist in their death. Some conditions must be met

  • Patient must be a mentally competent adult
  • Patient must have been given six months or less to live because of a terminal illness
  • Two physicians must confirm the patient's residency, diagnosis, prognosis, mental competence, and voluntariness of the request.
  • There are two required waiting periods: one between the oral requests and the second between receiving and filling the prescription.

Assisted suicide is controversial because it raises questions surrounding ethics and religious beliefs. People who believe that suicide is a sin due to their religion, for example, maybe against assisted suicide, even if the terminally ill patient faces extreme pain and suffering. Supporters of assisted suicide believe that it is up to the individual to decide their death, not the government or religious institutions and their ideologies.

States that Allow Assisted Suicide

In the United States, federal law allows states to make their own choices regarding assisted suicide. Because of its controversial nature, it comes as no surprise that assisted suicide is illegal in most states. However, assisted suicide is legal in nine states:

In these states, it is legal for terminally ill patients to receive lethal medication from their doctors. Additionally, in Montana, there is currently no death with dignity statute; however, the end-of-life option is legal through State Supreme Court ruling. In New Mexico, a judge ruled that patients have to receive a lethal dose of medication if they are terminally ill.

Assisted Suicide States 2021

State Date Law Passed Minimum Age # of Months Until Expected Death # of Requests to Physician
CaliforniaSep. 11, 201518Six or lessTwo oral (at least 15 days apart) and one written
ColoradoNov. 8, 201618Six or lessTwo oral (at least 15 days apart) and one written
HawaiiApr. 5, 201818Six or lessTwo oral (at least 20 days apart) and one written
MaineJune 12, 201918Six or lessTwo oral (at least 20 days apart) and one written
MontanaDec. 31, 2009no legal protocolno legal protocolno legal protocol
New JerseyMar. 25, 201918Six or lessTwo oral (at least 15 days apart) and one written
OregonNov. 8, 199418Six or lessTwo oral and one written
VermontMay 20, 201318Six or lessTwo oral (at least 15 days apart) and one written
WashingtonNov. 4, 200818Six or lessTwo oral (at least 15 days apart) and one written

Assisted Suicide States 2021