Last updated on: 11/8/2012 3:25:15 PM PST
Tennessee Laws on Assisted Suicide
39-13-216. Assisted suicide.
(a) A person commits the offense of assisted suicide who:
(1) Intentionally provides another person with the means by which such person directly and intentionally brings about such person's own death; or
(2) Intentionally participates in a physical act by which another person directly and intentionally brings about such person's own death; and
(3) Provides the means or participates in the physical act with:
(A) Actual knowledge that the other person intends to bring about such person's own death; and
(B) The clear intent that the other person bring about such person's own death.
(b) It is not an offense under this section to:
(1) Withhold or withdraw medical care as defined by § 32-11-103;
(2) Prescribe, dispense, or administer medications or perform medical procedures calculated or intended to relieve another person's pain or discomfort but not calculated or intended to cause death, even if the medications or medical procedures may hasten or increase the risk of death; or
(3) Fail to prevent another from bringing about that person's own death.
(c) This section shall not in any way affect, impair, impede, or otherwise limit or render invalid the rights, privileges, and policies set forth in the Tennessee Right to Natural Death Act, compiled in title 32, chapter 11; the provisions for the durable power of attorney for health care, compiled in title 34, chapter 6, part 2; or the do not resuscitate (DNR) regulations of the Tennessee board for licensing health care facilities issued pursuant to § 68-11-224.
(d) A cause of action for injunctive relief may be maintained against any person who is reasonably believed about to violate or who is in the course of violating subsection (a), by any person who is:
(1) The spouse, parent, child, or sibling of the person who would bring about such person's own death;
(2) Entitled to inherit from the person who would bring about such person's own death;
(3) A health care provider or former health care provider of the person who would bring about such person's own death; or
(4) A public official with appropriate jurisdiction to prosecute or enforce the laws of this state.
(e) A cause of action for civil damages against any person who violates or attempts to violate subsection (a) may be maintained by any person given standing by subsection (d) for compensatory damages and exemplary damages, whether or not the plaintiff consented to or had prior knowledge of the violation or attempt. Any compensatory damages awarded shall be paid as provided by law, but exemplary damages shall be paid over to the department of revenue for deposit in the criminal injuries compensation fund, pursuant to § 40-24-107.
(f) Reasonable attorney's fees shall be awarded to the prevailing plaintiff in a civil action brought pursuant to this section. If judgment is rendered in favor of the defendant and the court finds that the plaintiff's suit was frivolous or brought in bad faith, the court shall award reasonable attorney's fees to the defendant.
(g) Assisted suicide is a Class D felony.
Source: Tennessee General Assembly, "Tennessee Code," www.capitol.tn.gov (accessed Nov. 8, 2012)