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Utah Euthanasia Laws

Maybe you’ve heard one of the recent news stories concerning the “right to die.” Or maybe a loved one has had a debilitating, painful, and terminal illness. And you may have been wondering what the law is surrounding so-called “mercy killings.” Killing or allowing the death of a hopelessly sick or injured person is known legally as “euthanasia.” The majority of states ban it entirely, although their particular statutes can vary on the details. This is an introduction to euthanasia laws in Utah.

Euthanasia Laws

Along with abortion and gun control, euthanasia remains one of the most hotly contested legal, social, and political issues in the country. Also referred to as “physician-assisted suicide,” euthanasia is illegal to some extent in just about every state. Utah law prohibits deliberate mercy killings, however doctors are permitted to withhold or withdraw "life-sustaining" measures in some circumstances.

Euthanasia Statutes in Utah

The table below lists Utah’s euthanasia statutes.

Code Section

Utah Code 75-2a-122: Advance Health Care Directive Act

Euthanasia Condoned in Statutes?

Euthanasia, mercy killing, or suicide is not condoned or authorized by Utah law.

Effect of Withholding of Life-Sustaining Procedures

Withholding or withdrawal of life-sustaining procedures does not constitute suicide or assisting suicide

Euthanasia Law History

The United States Supreme Court ruled in 1997 that the government's interest in preserving life and preventing intentional killing outweighs a citizen’s liberty interest in having the choice of when, where, and how die when it upheld a state law prohibiting euthanasia. Therefore, under federal law, there is no constitutional right to physician-assisted suicide.

States are permitted to ban euthanasia, but a majority has recognized the distinction between a physician proactively ending a patient's life, illegal in nearly every state, and passively refusing or removing life-saving medical treatment, legal in many states. A few states have gone farther and enacted laws protecting a patient's right to die, but even then, doctors are not allowed to administer lethal doses of drugs. Doctors may only provide certain drugs at their patients’ request, and the patients themselves must self-administer the doses.

Related Resources for Utah Euthanasia Laws

The issues surrounding the right to die debate remain hotly contested, and state law on the matter is subject to change. If you would like legal assistance regarding a terminal health care matter, you can consult with a Utah health care attorney. You can also find additional articles and information by visiting FindLaw's section on Patient Rights.

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