The Case for Palliative Care and Patient Choice
Despite a growing consensus that effective palliative care should be a core element in the treatment of all terminally ill patients, challenging questions remain about the physician's role in helping suffering patients end their lives. Physician-assisted dying remains one of the most controversial issues facing doctors, lawmakers, and patients today, and the need for intelligent and informed opinion on both sides of the debate is greater than ever.
In this volume, a distinguished group of physicians, ethicists, lawyers, and activists come together to present the case for the legalization of physician-assisted dying, for terminally ill patients who voluntarily request it. To counter the arguments and assumptions of those opposed to legalization of assisted suicide, the contributors examine ethical arguments concerning self-determination and the relief of suffering; analyze empirical data from Oregon and the Netherlands; describe their personal experiences as physicians, family members, and patients; assess the legal and ethical responsibilities of the physician; and discuss the role of pain, depression, faith, and dignity in this decision. Together, the essays in this volume present strong arguments for the ethical acceptance and legal recognition of the practice of physician-assisted dying as a last resort—not as an alternative to excellent palliative care but as an important possibility for patients who seek it.
Contributors: Marcia Angell, Anthony L. Back, Charles H. Baron, Andrew I. Batavia, Tom L. Beauchamp, Els Borst-Eilers, Dan W. Brock, Christine K. Cassel, Eric J. Cassel, Barbara Coombs-Lee, Linda Ganzini, Peter Goodwin, Martin Gunderson, Gerrit K. Kimsma, Sylvia A. Law, David Mayo, Alan Meisel, Robert A. Pearlman, Thomas Preston, John Shelby Spong, Helene Starks, Eli D. Stutsman, Kathryn L. Tucker, Johannes J. M. Van Delden, Herman H. van der Kloot Meijburg, Evert van Leeuwen, Jaap J. F. Visser
About the Authors
Timothy E. Quill, M.D., is a professor of medicine, psychiatry, and medical humanities at the University of Rochester and author of A Midwife through the Dying Process, also available from Johns Hopkins. Margaret P. Battin, Ph.D., is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and an adjunct professor of medical ethics at the University of Utah. She is the author of The Least Worst Death.
"A very persuasive brief, combining empirical data, logical argumentation, and appeals to compassion."
"An excellent addition to the debate surrounding physician-assisted suicide and choice at the end of life. Reading this book along with The Case Against Assisted Suicide (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002) would provide a thorough grounding in this issue."
"Readers who are interested in a balanced counterpoint highlighting the best arguments of advocates and opponents of the legalization of assisted suicide should read both Physician-Assisted Dying and Foley and Hendin's book."
"This excellent book presents arguments supporting acceptance of physician-assisted death as an option for terminally ill patients who are suffering from extreme pain unrelieved by narcotics and whose only wish is to die."
"The collection is the indispensable starting place for anyone wishing to become better informed about the present arguments over physician-assisted dying (especially in the United States), and it belongs in every high school, university, and medical library in the country."
"This is an excellent book for medical students, hospice personnel, and others involved in end-of-life care."
"An important contribution to the debate as to whether the choice of assisted death should be granted to those who seek it."
"This book is likely to be the definitive argument for physician-assisted dying. Cogent, thoughtful, and never strident, it is of interest to a broad audience, including physicians, neurologists, oncologists, bioethicists, philosophers, social essayists, patients, and the general public. As a text, it could be used in courses in medical schools, theological schools, and departments of philosophy and sociology."
"This book is a must-read for everyone interested in the rights and welfare of patients at the end of life. The editors have put together a star-studded cast of knowledgeable and experienced contributors. The introductory and concluding essays by Quill and Battin make a compelling, principled case for a legally regulated practice of physician-assisted dying."
"Although presented as a series of separate essays written by the most knowledgeable medical and legal experts dealing with end-of-life issues, Physician-Assisted Dying: The Case for Palliative Care and Patient Choice is in truth a perfectly realized whole—one that will reward any careful reader with a rich, detailed, and historically grounded understanding of how we have at times come to grips with, but more often tried to evade, the moral, legal, and ultimately political dilemmas that are posed by one overwhelming question: How can we better assure the ethical and compassionate treatment of those who are approaching the end of their days, and of those closest to them, in ways that fully respect the needs, values, and choices of the individuals most intimately involved?"
"Provides a comprehensive account of the issue and will be of interest to professionals and patients at large."
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