Should our criminal law punish voluntary euthanasia in its active and passive forms?  One choice and one vote             per computer. Thanks for your participation.                                                                                                                                             
    Where a terminally ill person voluntarily, intelligently, and knowingly chooses to die with someone's help, the person                    who knowingly assists the death by active conduct should not be liable for murder or assisting suicide.                                        That is, voluntary euthanasia of the terminally ill should be legal under controlled circumstances.
    Where a terminally ill person voluntarily, intelligently, and knowingly chooses to die with someone's help, the person                    who knowingly assists the death should be liable for the crime of murder, not aiding (assisting) suicide.
    Same as the previous answer, except that the person who knowingly assists the death should be liable for the crime                    of aiding (assisting) suicide rather than for the crime of murder.


Voluntary euthanasia refers to the act of being put to death painlessly as a result of voluntary request. It appears as passive euthanasia - withholding or withdrawing life-preserving procedures including hydration (water) and nourishment (food) and active euthanasia - intentionally or knowingly causing a death by affirmative conduct such as assisting a suicide. Voluntary euthanasia encompasses assisted suicide. Assisted suicide is legal in the states of Oregon (via the Oregon Death with Dignity Act), Washington on March 5, 2009 (by Washington Initiative 1000),  Montana (through a state supreme court ruling on 12-31-09 in Baxter v. Montana, 224 P.3d 2111 (Mont. 2009), Vermont (by legislation on May 20, 2013) and California (by legislation effective June 9, 2016, and signed into law by the governor on October 5, 2015). Colorado (by voter initiative - Proposition 106) on November 8, 2016. In these six states, subject to substantial hurdles, people are allowed to kill themselves with drugs prescribed by a doctor for such purpose. For example, under Oregon's voter-approved Death with Dignity Act, a terminally ill patient may obtain the lethal drugs if two doctors agree that the person has less than six months to live and is mentally competent to decide whether to end his life.  See  How to Die in Oregon (2011) an HBO presentation documenting how terminally ill patients in Oregon choose assisted suicide. See Gonzales v. Oregon, 546 U.S. 243 (2006); Washington v. Glucksberg, 521 U.S. 702 (1997).

The majority of states, over 40, have laws making it a statutory crime to assist or aid suicide, e.g., TPC Section 22.08 (Aiding Suicide), or rely on the common law crime of being an aider of self-murder. (1), (2), (3) Note: since June of 2016, Canada permits physician-assisted suicide for adults with grievous and irremediable medical conditions. See Carter v. Canada.

In fact, physicians have been knowingly (aware that their acts are reasonably certain to cause death) hastening the deaths of their patients since antiquity. They do it many times every day in the USA with "P.R.N." orders. P.R.N. means pro re nata (administer as needed or as the situation arises). When coupled with a morphine drip, the result of a P.R.N. order by a doctor is death by overdose of morphine.  There is no accurate frequency data, but this could be accumulated easily by doing drug screens on people who die in hospitals. I suggest to you that perhaps 60% of the geriatric deaths would display lethal doses of drugs, principally morphine, that are given in IV drips to "alleviate pain" under a P.R.N. order. Analytically, these are murders under the common law, Model Penal Code, and law of Texas because they are done knowingly, though not necessarily with intent to kill. See Section 19.02 (b) (1) TPC . I also submit that there is also a significant amount of low visibility (bootleg) euthanasia in connection with full-blown terminally ill AIDS patients in extremis. (1-Final Exit), (2-pdf article), (3)

For further insight, watch online the compelling Frontline Special The Suicide Tourist, the story of a brave man, Craig Ewert, who brings the issue of euthanasia into the light by allowing his struggle with the assisted suicide decision to be documented. See A Short Stay in Switzerland with Julie Walters; How to Die in Oregon
See also Euthanasia, Non-Religious Arguments Against Euthanasia, Voluntary Euthanasia Discussed, Religion and Voluntary Euthanasia, Arguments Against Euthanasia, Pros and Cons of Assisted Suicide, The Case for Assisted Suicide, Essay, Non-Voluntary Euthanasia

  • Kamisar, Yale, Physician-Assisted Suicide: The Problems Presented by the Compelling Heartwrenching Case, Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology, Vol. 88, page 1121 (1998).
  • Kamisar, Yale, Some Non-Religious Views Against Proposed "Mercy-Killing" Legislation, Minnesota Law Review, Vol. 42, page 969 (1958).
  • Newman, Stephen, Euthanasia: Orchestrating "The Last Syllable of...Time", University of Pittsburgh Law Review, Vol. 53, page 153 (1991).
  • Williams, Glanville, "Mercy-Killing" Legislation: A Rejoinder, Minnesota Law Review, Vol. 43, page 1 (1958).
  • Four Corners - Final Call - Elderly Aussies obtain lethal drugs to help them commit suicide when it becomes necessary to go to a nursing home.
  • Amour - a touching 2012 French film portraying the story of a knowing murder and suicide of a elderly couple, nominated for five Academy Awards, winner of Best Foreign Language Film and the Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Ore.