Many people consider the right to die a deeply personal decision that people should be allowed to make for themselves without the government’s interference. However, when terminally-ill people become so sick and frail that they can’t take their own lives to escape their misery, they often call on loved ones to help them end their suffering.

The debate around assisted suicide has raged for many years. Just last year, after much debate and controversy, California legislators approved a bill called the End of Life Option Act, which the governor signed into law. It allows medically-assisted suicide, but only if a number of conditions are met.

Ohio lawmakers, on the other hand, have taken steps towards preventing assisted suicide. At the end of last year, legislators in both chambers voted to make it a third-degree felony. That means that someone found guilty of helping someone die could face up to five years behind bars. Previously, if someone knowingly assisted another person in killing themselves, they could face only an injunction.

The Republican state senator from Cincinnati who authored the bill said that it was intended to mirror legislation passed in Michigan nearly 20 years ago in response to Dr. Jack Kevorkian. He became famous (or infamous, depending on your point of view) for helping over 130 people who had been diagnosed with terminal illnesses end their lives.

While helping a terminally-ill loved one who is in pain end his or her suffering may seem like the most compassionate thing you can do, it’s important to remember that there may be legal consequences. If you find yourself in this situation, an experienced Ohio criminal defense attorney can work to protect your rights and present your case.

Source: BioEdge, “Ohio makes assisted suicide a felony,” Michael Cook, Jan. 14, 2017