Last Rights: Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia Debated

Michael M. Uhlmann, Editor
Michael M. Uhlmann, Editor Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company $35 (656p) ISBN 978-0-8028-4199-5
Reviewed on: 12/29/1997
Release date: 01/01/1998
Jack Kevorkian is now a household name. Before him, Karen Ann Quinlan, whose parents fought for the right to disconnect her from a respirator, brought the issue of the right to die to the forefront of public debate. In each of these cases, the ethical debate centers around the right to life at the end of life. If death is imminent from a terminal medical condition, who has the right to terminate a patient's life? Should a doctor recommend and participate in assisted suicide? What are the medical, legal and ethical differences between assisted suicide and euthanasia? In this collection of essays, published jointly by Eerdmans and the Ethics and Public Policy Center (a Washington, D.C., organization that, according to its mission statement, ""was established in 1976 to clarify and reinforce the bond between the Judeo-Christian moral tradition and the public debate over domestic and foreign policy issues""), editor Uhlmann and his contributors seek to address these questions. In a first section, Uhlmann offers a lengthy survey of ""classical, Christian, and early modern thought"" on the issues of euthanasia and assisted suicide. A second section considers ""contemporary moral and theological perspectives,"" from Byron Sherwin's informative ""Jewish Views on Euthanasia"" to excerpts from Pope John Paul II's encyclical, The Gospel of Life. A third section presents ""Medical Perspectives,"" ranging from Kevorkian's ""A Fail-Safe Method for Justifiable Medically Assisted Suicide"" to Leon Kass's ""Why Doctors Must Not Kill."" A final section contains ""Legal Perspectives."" Uhlmann's collection is a thorough look, in lively prose, at a complex ethical issue. (Jan.)
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