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The case for physician assisted suicide: not (yet) proven

Abstract

The legalisation of physician assisted suicide (PAS) in Oregon and physician assisted death (PAD) in the Netherlands has revitalised the debate over whether and under what conditions individuals should be able to determine the time and manner of their deaths, and whether they should be able to enlist the help of physicians in doing so. Although the change in the law is both dramatic and recent, the basic arguments for and against have not really changed since the issue was debated by Glanville Williams and Yale Kamisar nearly 50 years ago. In this paper, the author argues in favour of Kamisar’s consequentialist framework. Any change in law and social policy should not be based solely on individual cases, heart wrenching though these may be. Instead, we need to assess the need for PAS, and weigh this against the risks of mistake and abuse.

  • PAD, physician assisted death
  • PAS, physician assisted suicide
  • physician assisted death
  • euthanasia
  • end of life decisions

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