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Louisiana Euthanasia Laws

The thought of a loved one having a debilitating, painful, and terminal illness, is almost unbearable. And we can’t help but think of ways in which we can ease or end their suffering. Euthanasia is killing or allowing the death of a hopelessly sick or injured person, and states can have different laws on the subject. Here is a brief overview of euthanasia laws in Louisiana.

Euthanasia Laws

A hotly contested legal, social, and political issue, euthanasia (also known as physician-assisted suicide or mercy killings) normally arises when a person has a terminal illness or similar life-limiting condition. With the details and language of euthanasia laws varies, just about every state outlaws euthanasia to some extent. While the withholding or withdrawal of "life-sustaining" measures may be permitted under Louisiana’s euthanasia statutes, deliberate mercy killings are not allowed.

Euthanasia Statutes in Louisiana

The basics of euthanasia laws in Louisiana are listed below.

Code Section

Louisiana Revised Statutes 40:1151: Declarations Concerning Life-Sustaining Procedures

Euthanasia Condoned in Statutes?

Nothing in this section shall be construed to condone, authorize, or approve mercy killing or euthanasia or to permit 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

The withholding of life-sustaining procedures in accordance with this part shall not for any purpose constitute suicide.

Euthanasia Law Background

In 1997 the United States Supreme Court decided that a state law prohibiting euthanasia was constitutional, and there is no constitutional right to physician-assisted suicide. The Court ruled that the government's interest in preventing intentional killing and preserving life outweighs a citizen’s liberty interest in having the choice to die. Although states are can ban euthanasia, most, like Louisiana, have made the distinction between a physician proactively ending a patient's life (which is generally not permitted) and passively refusing or removing life-saving medical treatment (which normally is permitted). Very few states have gone farther and enacted laws protecting a patient's right to die. And even in those states, doctors are not allowed to administer lethal doses of drugs; they are only permitted to provide certain drugs at their patients’ request and it is the patients themselves who must self-administer the doses.

Louisiana Euthanasia Laws: Related Resources

Euthanasia remains a divisive issue in health and constitutional law, as well as a constant social debate. You can visit FindLaw's Patient Rights section for more resources and information on this topic. You can also contact a Louisiana health care attorney if you would like legal assistance regarding a terminal health care matter.

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