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Arkansas Euthanasia Laws

No one lives forever and we all must accept our mortality at some point, but there are certain situations where an individual may choose to end it on their own. The act of "euthanasia" involves intentionally taking someone's life in order to end the suffering of an individual with terminal illness. Euthanasia is illegal in all states, technically, but a few states allow the option of physician-assisted suicide for qualifying patients with terminal illness. Since the physician prescribes lethal drugs for the patient to administer on their own, giving the patient complete and control over the act of suicide, it is not euthanasia.

Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide are highly controversial topics, involving several different aspects of medicine, religion, ethics, and law. Some doctor's groups oppose it because of perceived violations of the Hippocratic Oath ("First, do no harm"), although there is quite a bit of debate among physicians. In states without such laws, patients may choose to not be kept alive through artificial means by signing a living will.

Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide in Arkansas: Overview

Simply stated, Arkansas law does not allow for any kind of mercy killing or physician-assisted suicide. In fact, state law specifically addresses the act of physician-assisted suicide, charging the crime as a Class C felony. A physician commits such a crime by prescribing any drug or substance with the express purpose of helping the patient end his or her life or to assist in any procedure with the same intention.

See the following chart for more details of Arkansas's physician-assisted suicide statute.

Code Section

20-17-210(a), (g)

§ 5-10-106

Euthanasia Condoned in Statutes? Euthanasia (mercy killing) or physician-assisted suicide not condoned, authorized, or approved by Arkansas law.
Classification/Penalties for Physician-Assisted Suicide Class C felony (3-10 yrs. in prison, up to $10,000 fine)
Effect of Withholding of Life-Sustaining Procedures Death resulting from withholding or withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment pursuant to declaration and in accordance with this section does not constitute suicide or homicide.

Note: State laws are subject to change at any, usually through the enactment of new legislation but sometimes through the issuance of higher court opinions or other means. Be sure to contact an Arkansas health care attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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Arkansas Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide Laws: Related Resources

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