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Missouri Euthanasia Laws

Missouri Euthanasia Laws at a Glance

Euthanasia, often referred to as a "mercy killing," is a very controversial issue that often comes into conflict with medical ethics. Euthanasia involves the taking of someone's life -- with their permission -- who no longer wants to live, often because of a terminal illness. Very few states allow any kind of mercy killing, including physician-assisted suicide, but most states allow for the withdrawal of artificial life support systems.

While Missouri law does not permit euthanasia, the state does allow for the removal of life support in certain instances. Generally, this requires permission from the patient (see Living Wills: Introduction) as carried out by an individual with a durable power of attorney.

What are the Penalties for Euthanasia in Missouri?

Under Missouri statute, "knowingly assist[ing] another in the commission of self-murder" is charged as voluntary manslaughter, a class B felony. Penalties upon conviction range from five to 15 years.

The following chart highlights Missouri's euthanasia laws (or lack thereof), with links to related matters. See FindLaw's Patient Rights section to learn more.

Code Section 404.845; 459.055
Euthanasia Condoned in Statutes? Euthanasia or mercy killing is not condoned or authorized by Missouri law, nor does it permit any affirmative or deliberate act or omission to shorten or end life.
Effect of Withholding of Life-Sustaining Procedures When patient's death results from withholding or withdrawing life-sustaining treatment in accordance with a durable power of attorney, the death shall not constitute a suicide or homicide for any purpose.

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- contact a Missouri health care attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

General Overview of Euthanasia Laws

Euthanasia remains illegal in most states for a couple of reasons. First of all, it is a very controversial subject that has been tied to the anti-abortion debate. But it also comes into conflict with physicians' duties as healers. Proponents of euthanasia believe it is a human rights issue to be able to control your own mortality and to avoid serious pain in the absence of a likely recovery. The argument over mercy killing became national news when Dr. Jack Kevorkian introduced more humane methods of helping people end their lives.

Research the Law

Missouri Euthanasia Laws: Related Resources

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