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GENERAL PRACTICE LAW FIRM

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Dr. Kevorkian and the Arkansas crime of Physician-Assisted Suicide

Posted on December 17, 2012 at 10:23 AM Comments comments (398)
Dr. Jack Kevorkian (a.k.a Dr. Death) brought the notion of physician-assisted suicide to the forefront of the national consciousness during the 1990's. Kevorkian eventually lost his medical license, but continued to assist in suicides until the law eventually caught up to him. In 1999 Kevorkian was convicted of second degree murder. Also in 1999 the Arkansas legislature added a new criminal offense to cover this unique situation. Physician-assisted suicide is now an enumerated offense in the criminal code of the State of Arkansas and is a class C felony.  There are several exceptions to the law (most noticeably for the doctors that administer lethal injections), but generally if a doctor expressly follows a course of conduct to intentionally end a patient's life they qualify under this statute and could be convicted by the State. The text of the statute reads:

5-10-106.  Physician-assisted suicide.
  (a)  (1) As used in this section, "physician-assisted suicide" means a physician or health care provider participating in a medical procedure or knowingly prescribing any drug, compound, or substance for the express purpose of assisting a patient to intentionally end the patient's life.   (2) However, "physician-assisted suicide" does not apply to a person participating in the execution of a person sentenced by a court to death by lethal injection.(b) It is unlawful for any physician or health care provider to commit the offense of physician-assisted suicide by:   (1) Prescribing any drug, compound, or substance to a patient with the express purpose of assisting the patient to intentionally end the patient's life; or   (2) Assisting in any medical procedure for the express purpose of assisting a patient to intentionally end the patient's life.(c) Upon conviction, any physician or health care provider violating subsection (b) of this section is guilty of a Class C felony.(d) Nothing in this section prohibits a:   (1) Physician or health care provider from carrying out an advanced directive or living will; or   (2) Physician from prescribing any drug, compound, or substance for the specific purpose of pain relief.
 
This blog is not legal advice, but a general explanation of the law that is not specific to your case, if you have one. If you have questions concerning your rights, a recent police interaction or any other legal issue please contact either General Practice Law Firm or another attorney for a proper application of the law to your case.

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