cover image Deathright: Culture, Medicine, Politics and the Right to Die

Deathright: Culture, Medicine, Politics and the Right to Die

With *, James M. Hoefler, James M. Heofler. Westview Press, $69 (291pp) ISBN 978-0-8133-1701-4

The question of voluntary death is becoming increasingly insistent, and this volume explores the multiple facets of the issue in a clear and lively fashion. Hoefler, an assistant professor of political science at Dickinson College, with the help of Kamoie, a law student at George Washington University, has prepared a highly serviceable study of the cultural, political, legal, religious, medical, economic and ethical dimensions of the right to die controversy. Although Hoefler sometimes strays into such tangential areas as pet cemeteries and antiwrinkle cream, his book is essentially a sound and comprehensive study of the national debate. As he discusses the denial of death, legislative and judicial caution, policy activism and the ``happy-death movement,'' his own views become evident, and the book becomes not so much a social/scientific description as an argument supporting the right to death. Hoefler welcomes the growth of ``the rights culture'' in the U.S., ``overcoming countervailing pressures of restraint'' mainly from the judiciary and ``physician autonomy.'' Despite certain biases against judges and doctors (except Jack Kevorkian) and in favor of grassroots and academic movements, Hoefler makes it hard to argue against the view that ``a quiet and humane death'' of one's own choosing is a human right. (May)