Countries where assisted dying is legal

Last updated 11 August 2020


There is an overwhelming trend to reject euthanasia and assisted suicide.


Most assisted dying bills have failed


Assisted suicide and euthanasia bills have been defeated in at least 33 jurisdictions around the world since 2015: the UK (2015), Scotland (2015), New South Wales (2017), Tasmania (2017), and at least 29 US states.

In recent years courts ruled to uphold assisted suicide and euthanasia prohibitions in New York (2017), the UK (2017),  South Africa (2016) and New Zealand (2015).


Euthanasia and assisted suicide are illegal worldwide except in 8 % of jurisdictions.


Of the 6 Australian states, 50 US states and 194 other countries in the world, only 19 have decriminalised some form of ‘assisted dying’.

Only five jurisdictions in the world have decriminalised both euthanasia and assisted suicide: The Netherlands (2002),  Luxembourg (2009), Canada (2016), Victoria, Australia (2017) and Western Australia (2019, to come into effect in mid-2021).

Three jurisdictions have decriminalised only euthanasia: Belgium (2002), Québec (2014) and Colombia (2015). 

Assisted suicide is legal in some circumstances in only thirteen jurisdictions: Switzerland (1942), Finland, Germany (2015) and the US states of Oregon (1997), Washington (2008), Vermont (2013), California (2015), Colorado (2016), The District of Columbia (2016), Hawai’i (2018), New Jersey (2019), Maine (2019) and via a court decision in Montana (2009).

However, Margaret Dore from “Choice” is an lllusion argues that the Oregon law, and others based on this model, include euthanasia by allowing another person to be involved in the administration of the lethal dose.


Assisted dying is an umbrella term that includes both voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide.

It is suicide when a person intentionally ends their own life without help, for example by accessing and swallowing a lethal overdose on their own.

It is assisted suicide when a person intentionally ends their own life with help from at least one other person. The person who dies receives the lethal dose from someone else and takes the final action that ends their life, usually by swallowing the lethal dose or triggering an intravenous (IV) administration.   n>

It is euthanasia when someone else intentionally takes the final action that ends another person’s life. The most common method is by administering a lethal dose of medication intravenously – by injection. 




The Library of Congress. (2010, Jan 26). United States: Montana Supreme Court holds state law permits physician assistance of suicides by terminally ill patients. Global Legal Monitor. Retrieved from https://loc.gov/law/foreign-news/article/united-states-montana-supreme-court-holds-state-law-permits-physician-assistance-of-suicides-by-terminally-ill-patients/.


Vermont Department of Health. Patient Choice and Control at End of Life Act (Act 39). Available from https://www.healthvermont.gov/sites/default/files/documents/pdf/Act39_faq.pdf.


Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment. Colorado End-of-Life Option Act. Available from https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/medical-aid-dying.

New Jersey

State of New Jersey Department of Health. Medical Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act. Available at https://www.nj.gov/health/advancedirective/maid/.


UCLA Health. Introduction to California End of Life Option Act. Available at https://www.uclahealth.org/introduction-to-ca-end-of-life-option-act.


Maine Legislature. Maine Death with Dignity Act. Available at https://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/bills_129th/billtexts/HP094801.asp.

District of Columbia

DC Health. Death with Dignity Act of 2016. Available at https://dchealth.dc.gov/page/death-dignity-act-2016.


Hawaii State Legislature. Our Care, Our Choice Act. Available at https://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/Archives/measure_indiv_Archives.aspx?billtype=HB&billnumber=2739&year=2018.


Washington State Department of Health. Frequently Asked Questions About Death With Dignity. Available at https://www.doh.wa.gov/YouandYourFamily/IllnessandDisease/DeathwithDignityAct/FrequentlyAskedQuestions.

Western Australia

Government of Western Australia. Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2017. Retrieved from https://www.legislation.wa.gov.au/legislation/statutes.nsf/law_a147242_currencies.html&view=asmade.