Few States Allow Assisted Suicide

By Margaret K. Dore, Esq., MBA

"Physician-assisted suicide is no
longer legal in New Mexico."
In the last six years, five states have strengthened their laws against assisted suicide: Arizona, Louisiana, Georgia, Idaho and Ohio.[1]

Last year, the New Mexico Supreme Court overturned a decision recognizing a right to physician aid in dying, meaning physician-assisted suicide.[2] Physician-assisted suicide is no longer legal in New Mexico.

Physician-assisted suicide was legalized in Oregon and Washington State, in 1997 and 2008, respectively.[3] These laws also legalize euthanasia.[4] Just three other states have enacted similar laws. (Vermont, California and Colorado).


[1] See: Associated Press, “Brewer signs law targeting assisted suicide,” Arizona Capitol Times, 04/30/14, attached here at A-24 (“The proposal was prompted by a difficult prosecution stemming from a 2007 assisted suicide”); Associated Press, “La. assisted-suicide ban strengthened,” The Daily Comet, 04/24/12, attached here at A-25); Georgia HB 1114 (attached here at A-26); Margaret Dore, “Idaho Strengthens Law Against Assisted Suicide,” Choice is an Illusion, 07/04/11; and Ohio HB 470, which can be viewed here.
[2]  Morris v. Brandenburg, 376 P.3d 836 (2016), excerpt attached here at A-28.
[3]  Oregon’s law was passed as Ballot Measure 51 in 1997. The law had originally been passed in 1994 as Ballot Measure 16, but did not go into effect at that time.  Washington’s law was passed by Initiative 1000 in 2008 and went into effect in 2009.
[4]  The Washington and Oregon laws are sold as limited to physician-assisted suicide in which a patient self-administers the lethal dose. In Washington’s law, however, “self-administer” is specially defined to allow someone else to administer the lethal dose, which is euthanasia. See Margaret K. Dore, "'Death with Dignity': What Do We Advise Our Clients?," King County Bar Association, Bar Bulletin, May 2009. Oregon’s law also legalizes euthanasia, but using different language.