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Physician-assisted Suicide: Expanding the Debate
  1. John Keown
  1. Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge

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    Edited by Margaret P Battin, Rosamund Rhodes and Anita Silvers, New York and London, Routledge, 1998, 463 pages, £45.

    This substantial academic volume, which seeks to expand the debate on physician-assisted suicide, is a significant addition to the growing number of edited works on one of the most important issues in contemporary bioethics.

    The introduction observes that the essays illuminate the evolving, increasingly “nuanced” American debate in the wake of the landmark Supreme Court decisions upholding laws against physician-assisted suicide. Its twenty-three chapters are divided into five sections: “conceptual issues”; “those at risk”; “the practice of medicine”; “the impact of legislation”, and “religious perspectives”.

    How, then, is the debate said to be evolving? Conceptually, the editors claim, both proponents and opponents now appeal to the same values, such as autonomy, beneficence, and medical integrity. Politically, patients' groups …

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