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Physician-Assisted Death : What Everyone Needs to Know - Wayne Sumner

Physician-Assisted Death

What Everyone Needs to Know

Paperback Published: 26th October 2017
ISBN: 9780190490171
Number Of Pages: 272

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The issue of physician-assisted death is now firmly on the American public agenda. Already legal in five states, it is the subject of intense public opinion battles across the country. Driven by an increasingly aging population, and a baby boom generation just starting to enter its senior years, the issue is not going to go away anytime soon. In Physician-Assisted Death, L.W. Sumner equips readers with everything they need to know to take a reasoned and informed position in this important debate.

The book provides needed context for the debate by situating physician-assisted death within the wider framework of end-of-life care and explaining why the movement to legalize it now enjoys such strong public support. It also reviews that movement's successes to date, beginning in Oregon in 1994 and now extending to eleven jurisdictions across three continents.

Like abortion, physician-assisted death is ethically controversial and the subject of passionately held opinions. The central chapters of the book review the main arguments utilized by both sides of the controversy: on the one hand, appeals to patient autonomy and the relief of suffering, on the other the claim that taking active steps to hasten death inevitably violates the sanctity of life.

The book then explores both the case in favor of legalization and the case against, focusing in the latter instance on the risk of abuse and the possibility of slippery slopes. In this context the experience of jurisdictions that have already taken the step of legalization is carefully reviewed to see what lessons might be extracted from it. It then identifies some further issues that lie beyond the boundaries of the current debate but will have to be faced sometime down the road: euthanasia for patients who are permanently unconscious or have become seriously demented and for severely compromised newborns.

The book concludes by considering the various possible routes to legalization, both political and judicial. Readers will then be prepared to decide for themselves just where they stand when they confront the issue both in their own jurisdiction and in their own lives.

Industry Reviews

"Sumner's volume is a splendid example of how ethical analysis, historical review, and pragmatic comparison of alternative policies can be brought together concisely in a handy book that conveys a great deal of what everyone really does need to know about PAD." -- Paul T. Menzel, Bioethics "With his philosophy background and focus in medical ethics, Sumner is truly an expert and handles controversial topics in a thoughtful, impartial way. His audience here is not simply scholars of medical ethics but also general readers who may find themselves facing end-of-life challenges with a loved one. Reviewing the thorough notes and bibliography sections will be educational for all, but may be most interesting to scholars interested in further study." -- S. C. Grossman, CHOICE


1 How Should We Think about Death and Dying? How do we tell when death has occurred? What do we mean by death? Why is it (usually) a bad thing to die? How might death sometimes be a good thing? How and where do we typically die?

2 What is End-of-life Care? What is the end of life? What end-of-life treatment options are currently available to patients? Do patients have the right to refuse treatment? Do patients have the right to refuse life-sustaining treatment? What is pain management? What is terminal sedation? What is physician-assisted death?

3 What is the Ethical Case in Favor of Physician-Assisted Death? What is the argument from well-being? What is the argument from autonomy? When is PAD justified? Is there an ethical difference between the two forms of PAD?

4 What is the Ethical Case Against? What is the right to life? What is the sanctity of life? What is the doctrine of double effect? What is the doctrine of doing and allowing? Is there an ethical difference between PAD and other end-of-life treatment options? What role can be played in this issue by religious arguments?

5 What is the History of Legal Physician-Assisted Death? Is it legal to refuse life-sustaining treatment? Is it legal to administer pain medication that may hasten death? Is terminal sedation legal? Where did any form of PAD first become legal? Where has PAE become legal? What has been happening in the United States?

6 What are the Options for a Legal Regime? Must the illness be terminal? What kinds of suffering should be recognized? What kinds of illnesses should be included? What about people who are just

ISBN: 9780190490171
ISBN-10: 0190490179
Series: What Everyone Needs to Know
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 272
Published: 26th October 2017
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 20.32 x 12.7  x 1.91
Weight (kg): 0.29

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