Last updated on: 11/6/2012 9:25:27 AM PST
Alabama Laws on Assisted Suicide
Assisted suicide is governed by common law in Alabama. Common law is a body of law that is based on custom and general principles and is embodied in case law that serves as precedent or is applied to situations not covered by statute. In general, assisted suicide is covered by the murder statute and a statute within the laws for termination of life-support procedures.
(a) A person commits the crime of murder if he or she does any of the following:
(1) With intent to cause the death of another person, he or she causes the death of that person or of another person.
(2) Under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to human life, he or she recklessly engages in conduct which creates a grave risk of death to a person other than himself or herself, and thereby causes the death of another person.
(3) He or she commits or attempts to commit arson in the first degree, burglary in the first or second degree, escape in the first degree, kidnapping in the first degree, rape in the first degree, robbery in any degree, sodomy in the first degree, any other felony clearly dangerous to human life and, in the course of and in furtherance of the crime that he or she is committing or attempting to commit, or in immediate flight therefrom, he or she, or another participant if there be any, causes the death of any person.
(4) He or she commits the crime of arson and a qualified governmental or volunteer firefighter or other public safety officer dies while performing his or her duty resulting from the arson.
(b) A person does not commit murder under subdivisions (a)(1) or (a)(2) of this section if he or she was moved to act by a sudden heat of passion caused by provocation recognized by law, and before there had been a reasonable time for the passion to cool and for reason to reassert itself. The burden of injecting the issue of killing under legal provocation is on the defendant, but this does not shift the burden of proof. This subsection does not apply to a prosecution for, or preclude a conviction of, manslaughter or other crime.
(c) Murder is a Class A felony; provided, that the punishment for murder or any offense committed under aggravated circumstances, as provided by Article 2 of Chapter 5 of this title, is death or life imprisonment without parole, which punishment shall be determined and fixed as provided by Article 2 of Chapter 5 of this title or any amendments thereto.
Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to condone, authorize or approve mercy killing or physician assisted suicide or to permit any affirmative or deliberate act or omission to end life other than to permit the natural process of dying as provided in this chapter.
Source: Alabama Legislature, "The Code of Alabama 1975," www.legislature.state.al.us (accessed Nov. 6, 2012)