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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: September 16, 2019 11:04 AM
From: Representative Dawn W. Keefer
To: All House members
Subject: Aiding Suicide - Shawn's Law
In the near future, I will introduce legislation amending the provision in the Crimes Code entitled Causing or Aiding Suicide. Under this statute, causing or aiding suicide is a crime. The offense is graded as a felony of the second degree if the person intentionally aids or solicits another to commit suicide. Otherwise, the offense is graded as a misdemeanor of the second degree (maximum penalty two years imprisonment/$ 5,000 fine). Causing another to commit suicide by force, where the actor does so intentionally, is criminal homicide.

You may have read or heard about a tragic event that occurred recently in York County in which a young woman, who suffered from depression, turned to a website for advice about how to end her own life. According to press accounts, the website contained information about how to prepare poison. The young woman did so and then contacted the website, saying she was terrified. The person answering on behalf of the website wished her well on her journey instead of encouraging her to seek help.

My legislation, referred to as “Shawn’s Law”, provides that the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing provide for a sentence enhancement where the person who commits suicide is under 18 years of age or has an intellectual disability. It seems to me that such an enhancement is warranted, especially if the offense is graded as a misdemeanor of the second degree.

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Introduced as HB1827