West Virginia Euthanasia Laws
Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors | Last reviewed October 26, 2017
If you’ve ever had a loved one battling a debilitating, painful, and terminal illness, you may have naturally wondered about the “right to die,” or the law is surrounding so-called “mercy killings.” “Euthanasia” is the legal definition of killing or allowing the death of a hopelessly sick or injured person. And in most states intentionally ending the life of another person, no matter how sick, is illegal. Here is a quick introduction to euthanasia laws in West Virginia.
While the issue remains one of the most hotly debated in legal, social, and political circles across the country, euthanasia is prohibited in almost every state. Deliberate mercy killings, sometimes referred to as “physician-assisted suicide,” are illegal under West Virginia law as well. However, doctors are permitted in some cases to withhold or withdraw "life-sustaining" measures in order to “allow the natural process of dying.”
Euthanasia Statutes in West Virginia
The details of West Virginia’s euthanasia laws are listed below.
West Virginia Code 16-30-15: Withholding of Life Support
Euthanasia Condoned in Statutes?
Euthanasia or mercy killing is not condoned or authorized by West Virginia law, nor is any act or omission other than to allow the natural process of dying.
Effect of Withholding of Life-Sustaining Procedures
The withholding or withdrawal of life-prolonging intervention from a person in accordance with the decision of a medical power of attorney representative or surrogate decision maker made pursuant to the provisions of this article does not, for any purpose, constitute assisted suicide or murder.
Euthanasia Law History
Neither federal law nor the Constitution provides a right to physician-assisted suicide. Under a United States Supreme Court ruling in 1997, a state’s interest in preventing intentional killing and preserving life outweighs a citizen’s interest in choosing when, where, and how die. Therefore, states may prohibit euthanasia, and most do. However, West Virginia is one of many states to recognize that passively refusing or removing life-saving medical treatment (which is legal in many states) is not the same as a physician proactively ending a patient's life (which is illegal in nearly every state).
Related Resources for Euthanasia Laws in West Virginia
Euthanasia is an emotionally and legally complex issue. FindLaw's section on Patient Rights can provide you with additional articles and resources on this topic. You can also consult with a West Virginia health care attorney in your area if you would like legal help regarding a terminal health care matter.
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