Last updated on: 7/23/2013 | Author:

1828 – First US Statute Outlawing Assisted Suicide Enacted in New York

“The earliest American statute explicitly to outlaw assisting suicide is enacted in New York. It is the Act of Dec. 10, 1828, ch. 20, §4, 1828 N. Y. Laws 19. Many of the new States and Territories followed New York’s example… Between 1857 and 1865, a New York commission led by Dudley Field drafted a criminal code that prohibited ‘aiding’ a suicide and, specifically, ‘furnish[ing] another person with any deadly weapon or poisonous drug, knowing that such person intends to use such weapon or drug in taking his own life’… By the time the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified, it was a crime in most States to assist a suicide… The Field Penal Code was adopted in the Dakota Territory in 1877, in New York in 1881, and its language served as a model for several other western States’ statutes in the late 19th and early 20th centuries… California, for example, codified its assisted suicide prohibition in 1874, using language similar to the Field Code’s.”