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Iowa Euthanasia Laws

Euthanasia is one of those hot button topics where people can be deeply divided. On the one hand, we don’t want our loved ones who are terminally ill to suffer. Some even believe in a “right to die.” On the other, no one supports murder and we don’t want anyone arbitrarily deciding when and how our seriously ill loved ones leave this life.

No matter how you frame it, euthanasia, mercy killing, and assisted suicide aren’t legal in Iowa. However, deciding to withdraw artificial life support is permitted. To make this easier on your family members should something horrific happen to you, consider creating an advance health care directive.

The following table outlines the euthanasia-related laws in Iowa.

Code Sections Iowa Code Chapter 707A – Assisting Suicide
Iowa Code Sections 144A.11.6 – General Provisions of Life-Sustaining Procedures and 144B.12 – General Provisions of Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
Legal View of Euthanasia Iowa law doesn’t condone, authorize, or approve mercy killing or euthanasia or any affirmative or deliberate act or omission to end life other than to permit the natural process of dying.
Effect of Withholding of Life-Sustaining Procedures A death that results from the withholding or withdrawal of life-sustaining procedures pursuant to a lawful advance health care directive or at the health care representative’s decisions isn’t a homicide, suicide, or dependent adult abuse.
Assisted Suicide Assisted suicide is a crime in Iowa. Intentionally or knowingly assisting, soliciting, or inciting another person to commit or attempt to commit a suicide (taking one’s own life voluntarily) or participating in a physical act by which another person commits or attempts suicide is a Class C felony. The penalty for a Class C felony is up to 10 years in prison and a $1,000 to $10,000 fine.

The terminal illness of a loved one can be an extremely emotional time. You may not have the emotional strength to handle the health care choices you and your loved one must make. For help with thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. For caregivers wanting support, contact the Iowa Department on Aging Family Caregiver Program at 1-800-532-3213 to see what services you may be eligible for in your area.

If you’re contacted by a police officer or prosecutor regarding a possible euthanasia-related suicide or homicide, you should immediately contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. If you’re a health care professional, you should also inform your employer about the incident and follow any necessary (and legal) procedures required by your employer.

Note: State laws are revised constantly. Contact a local health care lawyer or conduct your own legal research to verify these euthanasia laws.

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