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Illinois Euthanasia Laws

Having a loved one with a painful, debilitating, terminal illness can be a tragic and agonizing experience. Sometimes it’s hard not to think ways to ease their suffering, and those thoughts sometimes turn to physician-assisted suicide. So what exactly are the laws regarding euthanasia? This is a brief summary of euthanasia laws in Illinois.

Euthanasia Laws

The act of helping another person end his or life, usually because of a terminal illness or some other life-limiting condition, is called euthanasia. While most states do not explicitly allow physician-assisted suicide, several states do allow the withdrawal of life-preserving apparatus (such as feeding tubes or respirators). Illinois euthanasia laws do not permit deliberate mercy killing, but allow the removal of "death-delaying" procedures in accordance to a patient's wishes.

Euthanasia Statutes in Illinois

The main provisions of Illinois euthanasia law are listed in the following table.

Code Section

755 ILCS 35/9 and 45/4-8e

Euthanasia Condoned in Statutes?

Nothing in this Act shall be construed to condone mercy killing or to permit any affirmative or deliberate act or omission to end life other than to permit natural process of dying.

Effect of Withholding of Life-Sustaining Procedures

Withholding or withdrawal of death delaying procedures from a qualified patient or in accordance with terms of this Act or a health care agency shall not constitute suicide or homicide or murder.

Under current Supreme Court law, an individual does not have a constitutional right to physician-assisted suicide. Back in 1997, the Court declared that the government's interest in preserving life and outweighed preventing intentional killing a patient's liberty interest in having the choice to die. The Court, however, differentiated between asking a physician to end a patient's life (which is not allowed) and refusing life-saving medical treatment (which may be allowed), giving states the freedom to make laws treating the two acts differently.

States are permitted to enact certain laws protecting a patient's right to die, though few states have done so. In those states, while doctors are permitted to provide lethal doses of certain drugs at their patients’ request, patients control the act of administering the doses to themselves. Euthanasia remains a heated topic of debate, and states are continuing to question whether or not to pass similar physician-assisted suicide laws.

Illinois Euthanasia Laws: Related Resources

The state statutes that govern euthanasia and the right to die are constantly changing. You can visit FindLaw's Patient Rights section for related articles and resources on this topic. If you would like legal assistance with a terminal health care issue, you can contact an Illinois health care attorney in your area.

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