Attempts to Legalize

Attempts to Legalize Euthanasia/Assisted-Suicide in the United States

In the United States, Oregon was the first state to legalized doctor-prescribed suicide. At that time, assisted-suicide advocates predicted that there would be a rapid “domino effect,” and other states would soon follow Oregon’s lead. But they were wrong. It took fourteen years before another state legalized the practice, and, even then, only after advocates spent a whole year preparing the campaign and raising millions of dollars to insure the victory they so desperately wanted. That state was Washington, the state consultants said was demographically most like Oregon and, therefore, most likely to favor assisted suicide.

In May 2013, Vermont passed an Oregon-style assisted suicide law and in September 2015, California passed a doctor-prescribed suicide bill.
In November 2016, Colorado voters approved a doctor-prescribed suicide bill and the District of Columbia passed such a law in December 2016.

But, since Oregon legalized assisted suicide in 1994, many states have rejected assisted-suicide measures, some multiple times. Since January 1994, there have been more than 200 legislative proposals in more than 36 states. Yet, over and over again, bills either defeated, tabled for the session, withdrawn by sponsors, or languished with no action taken.

Here is a listing, by state, of all the ballot initiatives (since 1991) and all the legislative measures (since 1994) to legalize euthanasia and/or doctor-prescribed suicide in the U.S.
Note:  As of 2017, proposals not only include doctor-prescribed suicide but also would permit a non-physician to prescribe the lethal drugs for assisted suicide.

Ballot Initiatives that Passed

Oregon – 1994

Ballot Measure 16 (Oregon Death with Dignity Act) passed on November 8, 1994, by the narrow margin of 51% to 49%. By legalizing physician-assisted suicide, the ballot measure transformed the crime of assisted suicide into a medical treatment.

Washington State — 2008

Ballot Initiative 1000 (Washington Death with Dignity Act) passed on November 4, 2008, by a vote of 58% to 42%. The Washington law is virtually identical to Oregon’s assisted-suicide law.

Colorado — 2016

On November 8, 2016, Colorado voters approved Proposition 106.

Ballot Initiatives that Were Defeated

Washington State – 1991

Ballot Initiative 119, which would have legalized “aid-in-dying” (both doctor-administered euthanasia and doctor-prescribed suicide), was defeated by a vote of 54% to 46%.

California – 1992

Proposition 161, a ballot initiative that would have legalized euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide failed by a vote of 54% to 46%.

Michigan – 1998

Measure B, which would have legalized physician-assisted suicide, was overwhelmingly rejected by a margin of 71% to 29%.

Maine – 2000

Question 1, the “Maine Death with Dignity Act,” patterned after the “Oregon Death with Dignity Act” would have legalized physician-assisted suicide.  It was defeated by voters 51% to 49%.

Massachusetts — 2012
Question 2, the “Massachusetts Death with Dignity Act,” patterned after the “Oregon Death with Dignity Act” would have legalized doctor-prescribed suicide.  It was defeated by voters 51% to 49%.


Legislative Measures since January 1994
To see details of legislative measures and other developments, go to the specific page for each state at Site Map
Alaska
HB 371 (1996)
HB 99 (2015)
HB 54 (2017
Arizona

SB 1007 (1996)
HB 2167 (1999)
HB 2454 (2003)
HB 2564 (2004)
HB 2311, HB 2313 (2005)
HB 2372, HB 2357 (2007)
HB 2387 (2008)
HB 2347, SB 1136 (2016)
HB 2336 (2017)
California
AB 1080, AB 1310 (1995)
AB 1592 (1999)
AB 654 (2005)
AB 651 (2006)
AB 374 (2007)
SB 128 (2015)
AB 15 (2015) passed & signed into law
Colorado
HB 95-1308 (1995)
HB 96-1185 (1996)
HB 15-1135 (2015)
SB 16-025 & HB-16-1054 (2016)
Connecticut
HB 6928, SB 334 (1995)
HB 6083 (1997)
SB 1138 (2009)
HB 6645 (2013)
Raised Bill No. 5326  (2014)
Raised Bill No. 7015 (2015)
HB 6024 (2017)
HB 6238 (2017)
Delaware
HB 150 (2015)
HB 160 (2017)
District of Columbia
B21-0038 (2015)
Passed DC Council 12/16
Hawaii
SB 2095 (1998)
HB 418, HB 347, SB 981, SB 692,   HB 1155, SB 1037 (1999)
HB 2491, SB2749, SB 709 (2001)
HB 2487, SB 2745 (2002)
HB 862, SB 391 (2003-2004)
HB 1454, SB 1308 (2005)
HB 3013, SB 2900 (2006)
HB 675, SB 800, SB 1995 (2007)
HB 587, HB 806, SB 1159 (2009)
HB 803, HB 1383, HB 1165 (2011)
HB 606 (2013)
HB 1255 (2015)
SB 2373 (2016)
HB, 201, HB 150, HB 550 (2017)
SB 357, SB 1129 (2017)
Illinois
HB 601, SB 948 (1997)
Indiana
HB 1561, SB 273 (2017)
Iowa
HB 2425 (2006)
House File 65 (2015)
SF 2051 (2016)
SF 215 (2017), HF 299 (2017)
Kansas
HB 2068 (2013)
HB 2108 (2013)
HB 2120 (2017)Louisiana
SB 128 (1999)Maine
HB 552 (1995)
LD 916 (1996)
HB 663 (1997)
IB 3, IB 10 (1999)
LD 1065 (2013)
S.B. 452 (LD 1270) (2015)
LD 347, LD 1066 (2017)Maryland
HB 933, HB 474 (1995)
SB 676HB 1021 (2015)
HB 404 (2016)
HB 370 (2017)
SB 354 (2017)

Massachusetts
H 3173 (1995)
H 1543 (1997)
H 1468 (2009)
H 2233 (2011)
H 3884 (2012)
H 1998 (2013)
H 1991 (2015)
SD 744 (2017)
HD 950 (2017)

Michigan
HB 4134 (1994)
SB 640 (1995)
SB 653 (1997)
HB 5474 (1998)
HB 5802 (2016)
HB 4461, HB 4462 (2017)

Minnesota
SF 1880 (2015)
SF 1572  and HF 1885 (2017)

Mississippi
HB 1023 (1996)
SB 2283 (2017)
Missouri
HB 307 (2015)
HB 1919 (2016)
HB 524 (2017)
Montana
SB 220 (2013)
SB 167 (2011)
SB  220 (2013)
SB 202 (2015)
Nebraska
LB 1259 (1996)
LB 406 (1997)
LB 70 (1999)
LB 1056 (2016)
LB 450 (2017)
Nevada
SB 336 (2015)
SB 261 (2017)
New Hampshire
HB 339 (1996)
HB 1433-FN (1998)
SB 44 (1999)
HB 304 (2009)
HB 513 (2011)
HB 1325 (2014)
SB 426 (2016) (study bill only)
New Jersey
A 3328, S 2259  (2012)
A 2270, S 382 (2014)
A 2451, S 2474 (2016)
New Mexico
SB 446 (1995)
HB 814 (2009)
HB 171 (2017)
SB 252 (2017)
New York
S 1683, S 5024-A, A 6333 (1995)
SB 4834 (1999)
SB 677 (2001)
AB 9360 (2012) withdrawn
AB 02129 (2015)
S 3685 (2015)
S 5814 (2015)
A 5261 (2015)
A 5261-C (2016)
A 10059 (2016)
A02383, S03151 (2017)
A03598 (2017)
North Carolina
HB 611 (2015)
HB 789 (2017)
Oklahoma
HB 1673 (2015)
HJR 1009 (2017)
Pennsylvania
HB 1435 (2007)
SB 404 (2009)
SB 431 (2011)
SB 1032 (2013)
HB 2548 (2014)
SB 549 (2015)
HB 943 (2015)
SB 238 (2017)
Rhode Island
SB 2985 (1995)
SB 2869 (1998)
SB 2763 (2001)
HB 7428, SB 2766 (2006)
HB 6080 (2007)
H 5507 (2015)
H 7659 (2016)
H 5468, S 0224 (2017)
Tennessee
SB 1362 (2015)
SB 1378, HB 1394 (2017)
Utah
HB 391 (2015)
HB 264 (2016)
HB 0076 (2017)
Vermont
H 335 (1995)
H 109 (1997)
H 493 (1999)
H 318, S 112 (2003-2004)
H 168 (2005-2006)
H 44, S 63 (2007)
H 455, S 144 (2009)
H 274, S.103  (2011-2012)
S 77 (2013) passed 5/13Washington
SB 5596 (1995)
SB 6576 (1998)
SB 6843 (2006)Wisconsin
AB 174, SB 90 (1995)
AB 32, SB 27 (1997)
AB 297, SB 124 (1999)
AB 417, SB 184 (2001)
AB 348, SB 169 (2003)
AB 507, SB 224 (2005)
AB 298, SB 151 (2007)
SB 28, AB 67 (2015)
LRB-2248/1 (2017)

Wyoming
SB 7 (2004)
HB 0119 (2015)
HB 0122 (2017)


For details about each state: see Site Map.

For more extensive information about U.S. proposals to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide, see:

“Euthanasia, Assisted Suicide & Health Care Decisions” (2006)
“Assisted Suicide & Death with Dignity: Past, Present & Future” (2004)
“Assisted Suicide: The Continuing Debate” (2002)
“The Art of Verbal Engineering” (1996)
Update: on-line editions (1996 – Present)