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There is no constitutional right to physician-assisted suicide says the U.S. Supreme Court. Most states have laws against it, but states can also allow it, as Oregon has done; others are considering legalization. Still very little guidance has been offered about its practice.
Assisted Suicide: Finding Common Ground fills that void. A diverse group of expertssome for, some againstprovide a framework for thinking about what assisted suicide, particularly physician-assisted suicide, is and how its legalized practice might be guided. The book does not take a position on the continuing debate about the morality or wisdom of legalizing assisted suicide. But physician-assisted suicide is now taking place, and the more pressing concerns are those pertaining to its implementation.
Editors Lois Snyder and Art Caplan attempt to find common ground on those real-world concerns. Among the questions asked and answered are: What is assisted suicide? Is physician-assisted suicide different from refusal of treatment? Are there alternatives to assisted suicide? How useful are currently available guidelines for physician-assisted suicide? Who should have access to what? Does assisted suicide necessarily mean physician-assisted suicide? Can the practice be effectively and meaningfully regulated? How should physicians respond to requests for assisted suicide?
Assisted suicide is one of the most ethically challenging issues in medicine and bioethics, defining who we are and want to be as individuals and as a society. This book takes a hard look at alternatives to the practice, the implications for the patient-physician relationship, who should write guidelines, and how to regulate physician-assisted suicide and establish safeguards so that it is voluntary and an option of last resort.
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