Clinics in Geriatric Medicine, Vol. 21, No. 1, pp. 179-192, 2005
14 Pages Posted: 24 Dec 2010
Date Written: February 1, 2005
Debating the question of whether physicians should be permitted to assist suicide and whether the practice should be legalized requires careful attention to the distinctions among assisted suicide, euthanasia, termination of life-sustaining treatment, palliative care, and the claimed practice of “terminal sedation.” After distinguishing these practices, this article analyzes the arguments for and against legitimation of physician-assisted suicide. This requires dissection of ethical, legal, clinical, and empirical claims, including analysis of data from the Netherlands (where both assisted suicide and euthanasia are allowed) and Oregon (where assisted suicide by lethal prescription is permitted).
The author comprehensively maps the arguments on both sides, detailing their points of connection and conflict. The article suggests potential agreement on avenues for progress in the quality of end-of-life care. Significant headway on these fronts has the potential to alter demand for physician-assisted suicide.
Keywords: physician-assisted suicide, euthanasia, end-of-life care, life-sustaining treatment, death and dying, health law, constitutional law, law and ethics, empirical data, bioethics, terminal sedation, palliative care
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