Intended for healthcare professionals

Letters Assisted dying debate

Let’s get the words right too

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 25 January 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d461
  1. Aodhan Breathnach, consultant microbiologist1
  1. 1Department of Medical Microbiology, St George’s NHS Healthcare Trust, London SW17 0QT, UK
  1. aodhan.breathnach{at}

How we use words is important, particularly in the debate about what is variously referred to as assisted dying, assisted suicide, euthanasia, or plain killing.1 Words can be used, perhaps unconsciously, for emotional as well as intellectual effect. Thus Delamothe describes Care not Killing as an outfit, an offensive term suggesting a ramshackle (possibly violent) organisation. Similarly, disabled people were …

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