Hastings International and Comparative Law Review


Active euthanasia, commonly referred to as mercy killing, is an international phenomenon. Yet, the legal response to euthanasia cases varies considerably. The United States and other common- law jurisdictions have no statutes dealing with active euthanasia. They rely instead on the discretion of the prosecutor, judge, and jury to determine justice. This approach produces inconsistent outcomes. Some individuals involved in active euthanasia never come to trial, and others are convicted of murder. This Note explores the judicial and statutory responses to euthanasia in a variety of countries, including the United States, West Germany, Japan, and the Netherlands. Using this comparison, this Note looks for alternatives to current laws and advocates the creation of a separate, less strict offense of homicide upon request.