Anti Assisted Suicide Legislation in Georgia

by The Center for Bioethics and Culture on February 26, 2012

By Wesley J. Smith, J.D., Special Consultant to the CBC

The Georgia Supreme Court threw out a badly written law that made it a crime, essentially, to advertise to assist suicide but not actually do the deed. Bad law led to an unforunate, but I think correct, legal ruling. But it left Georgia as a wild, wild, West of assisted suicide with no law on the books. After all, that which isn’t illegal, is legal.

Now legislation has been filed in Georgia to remedy the problem with a real ban. From HB 1114:

(3) ‘Suicide’ means the intentional and willful termination of one’s own life. (b) Any person who knowingly and willfully assists another person in the commission of such person’s suicide shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than ten years.

(c) The provisions of this Code section shall not apply to any otherwise lawful withholding or withdrawal of medical or health care treatment pursuant to, without limitation, a living will, a durable power of attorney for health care, an advance directive for health care, a Physician Order for Life-sustaining Treatment developed pursuant to subsection (l) of Code 36 Section 29-4-18, or a written order not to resuscitate.

The bill also permits survivors to sue the assister, which I like:

a) The decedent’s surviving spouse, child or children, either minor or sui juris, parent, sibling, or guardian appointed pursuant to Title 29, or the administrator or executor of the decedent, may recover for the homicide of the decedent the full value of the life of the decedent, as shown by the evidence, and for the funeral, medical, and other necessary expenses resulting from the injury and death of the deceased person.

May the legislation find wind in its sails — or whatever other cliche you might prefer — to indicate my desire for a swift and uncomplicated passage into law.

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