Assisted Suicide in the U.S.

Timeline created by vivianjenny
  • First US Statute Outlawing Assisted Suicide Enacted in New York

  • Samuel Williams Begins to Publically Advocate Using Morphine and Other Drugs for Euthanasia

  • American Medical Association Opposes Euthanasia

  • 1905-1906 Bills to Legalize Euthanasia Are Defeated in Ohio

  • Dr. Haiselden Allows Deformed Baby to Die Rather Than Give It Possibly Lifesaving Surgery

  • "The Black Stork" Film Causes Controversy over Infant Euthanasia

  • Public Support for Euthanasia Increases as US Endures Great Depression

  • Voluntary Euthanasia Legislation Society Founded

  • Voluntary Euthanasia Act Introduced in US Senate

  • National Society for the Legalization of Euthanasia Founded

  • Nazi Use of Involuntary Euthanasia Changes Public Perception of Euthanasia in the US

  • Committee of 1776 Physicians for Legalizing Voluntary Euthanasia Founded

  • Groups Petition the UN to Amend the Declaration of Human Rights to Include Euthanasia

  • Pauline Taylor Becomes President of the Euthanasia Society of America

  • Donald McKinney Becomes President of the Euthanasia Society of America

  • First Living Will Written

    The first living will is written by attorney Luis Kutner and his arguments for it appear in the Indiana Law Journal.
    Derek Humphry "Chronology of Euthanasia and Right-to-Die Events During the 20th Century and into the Millenium,", Feb. 27, 2005
  • Harvard Medical School Committee Defines Irreversible Coma as a Criterion for Death

  • Hastings Center Founded

    The Hastings Center was founded in 1969 by Daniel Callahan to study ethical problems in medicine and biology and was instrumental in the development of bioethics as a discipline. The original focus of the center concerned death and dying, genetics, reproductive biology and population issues, and behavior control.
    Daniel Callahan, PhD "The Hastings Center and the Early Years of Bioethics," Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal, Mar. 1999
  • Idea of Patients' Rights Gains Acceptance

    The goals have been to remove physicians from decision making and to let individual patients weigh the benefits and burdens of continued life.
    Ezekiel Emanuel, MD, PhD "The History of Euthanasia Debates in the United States and Britain," Annals of Internal Medicine, Nov. 15, 1994
  • US Senate Holds First National Hearings on Euthanasia

  • American Hospital Association (AHA) Adopts Patient's Bill of Rights

    The American Hospital Association adopts a "Patient's Bill of Rights" which recognizes the right of patients to refuse treatment.
  • Society for the Right to Die Founded; First US Hospice Opens

  • Supreme Court Rules in Quinlan Case that Respirator Can Be Removed from Coma Patient

  • Nation's First Aid in Dying Statute Signed into Law in CA

  • Eight States Have Right to Die Bills By 1977, eight states -- California, New Mexico, Arkansas, Nevada, Idaho, Oregon, North Carolina, and Texas -- had signed right-to-die bills into law.

  • Pope John Paul II Issues Declaration Opposing Mercy Killing

  • 1980World Federation of Right to Die Societies Forms; Hemlock Society Forms

  • American Medical Association Supports Withholding or Withdrawing Life-Prolonging Medical Treatment in Certain Circumstances

  • California State Bar Becomes First Public Body to Support Physician Aid in Dying

  • Journal of the American Medical Association Publishes Article By Hospital Worker Who Euthanized a Patient

  • Jack Kevorkian Participates in His First Assisted Suicide

    Jack Kevorkian Participates in His First Assisted Suicide
  • Cruzan v. Director, Missouri Department of Health comes before the United States Supreme Court

    The case receives national attention, as it is the first right-to-die case that the court has agreed to hear. In 1983, a car acccident had left Nancy Cruzan permanently unconscious (by most accounts). Her parents requested to withdraw her feeding tube, but the Missouri Supreme Court refused. The United States Supreme Court ruled that a competent person has a constitutionally protected right to refuse any medical treatment, but upholds Missouri's right to insist on clear and convincing evidence a
  • Public Opinion Surveys Show More Than Half of Americans Support Physician-Assisted Death

  • Washington Voters Defeat Physician-Aid-in-Dying Initiative

  • California Death with Dignity Act Is Defeated

  • Oregon Death With Dignity Act Passed

  • President Clinton Prohibits Using Federal Funds for Assisted Suicide

  • US Supreme Court Rules There Is No Right to Die

    The Supreme Court rules in Washington v. Glucksberg and Vacco v. Quill that there is not a constitutional right to die.
  • Oregon Voters Keep Death With Dignity Act

    Oregonians vote 60 to 40 percent in favor of keeping the Death With Dignity Act.
  • Jack Kevorkian Assists a Suicide on National Television

    Jack Kevorkian, MD, is a guest on 60 Minutes, during which he shows a videotape of him administering a lethal injection to Thomas Youk, a man suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease.
  • Jack Kevorkian Convicted of Murder

    A Michigan court convicts Jack Kevorkian, MD, for the murder of Thomas Youk and sentences him to 10-25 years in prison.
  • Netherlands Legalizes Euthanasia

  • Attorney-General Aschroft Challenges the Oregon Death with Dignity Act

  • Terri Schiavo Has Her Feeding Tube Removed after Long Court Battle

    Terri Schiavo Has Her Feeding Tube Removed after Long Court Battle
    photo reference: (accessed Nov.14, 2011)
  • Supreme Court Upholds Oregon's Death With Dignity Act in Gonzales v. Oregon

  • Jack Kevorkian Released on Parole

  • Washington Death with Dignity Act Is Passed

    Washington voters approve the Washington Death with Dignity Act (Initiative 1000) making Washington the second US state to legalize physician-assisted suicide.
  • State of Montana Legalizes Physician-Assisted Suicide

    Montana district judge Dorothy McCarter rules in the case of Baxter v. State of Montana that Montana residents have the legal right to physician assisted suicide, thus making it the third US state to legalize physican aid in dying.
    Baxter v. State of Montana