Health care professionals are trained to “first do no harm.” In end-of-life treatment, that simple directive can be difficult to interpret. A growing movement to provide patients help in dying has been termed “death with dignity” and “assisted suicide.” Federal law does not address euthanasia and mercy killings in terminal patients; the right of a patient to obtain a prescription to terminate life is established by state law. This map explores which states have enacted death with dignity legislation, which outlaw physician-assisted suicide, which make the practice criminal and which are considering changes to current state policy legalizing the practice under certain circumstances.
Elizabeth Ann Glass Geltman, JD, LLM
School of Urban Public Health at Hunter College & CUNY School of Public Health