Intended for healthcare professionals

Medicine And Books

Euthanasia: death, dying and the medical duty

BMJ 1996; 313 doi: (Published 07 December 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;313:1495
  1. Johannes J M Van Delden

    Eds G R Dunstan, P J Lachmann Royal Society of Medicine Press, £45, pp 172 ISBN 185315 278 1

    There seem to be three main ways of dealing with the issue of voluntary euthanasia, understood here to mean the deliberate and intentional hastening of death at a patient's request. The first is to reject it, citing the ethical principle of respect for life. This position is also defended by pointing to the risk of crossing the line from voluntary euthanasia to involuntary killing: the “slippery slope” argument. Defenders of this view sometimes claim that euthanasia is not necessary at all. They believe that, for people who request euthanasia, there is a “question behind the question,” which will surely turn out to be something other than a request for dying—if one listens hard …

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