Euthanasia, Ethics and Public Policy: An Argument Against Legalisation

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This book provides the general reader (who need have no expertise in philosophy, law or medicine) with a lucid introduction to this central question in the debate, not least by reviewing the Dutch euthanasia experience. It will interest readers in any country, whether for or against legalisation, who wish to ensure that their opinions are better informed.
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Editorial Reviews

From The Critics
In light of the ongoing controversy, Keown (law and ethics of medicine, U. of Cambridge) investigates the fear that voluntary active euthanasia and active physician-assisted suicide, if legalized, would not remain voluntary for very long, and that patients would have their lives terminated even if they did not wish and were not suffering. He draws on the views of specialists in the US, Canada, and Britain. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
From the Publisher
"[Keown] has produced what is the best book now in print on the case against the legalisation of euthanasia." The Tablet

"John Keown's informed and powerful argument against euthanasia features both an excellent exposition of its pitfalls and a strong confrontation with a question that remains controversial abroad: Are there circumstances in which withdrawl of treatment should be considered euthanasia? American readers of this book, who consider the question settled and are unfamiliar with cultural and legal differences in the way European countries and the United States have dealt with end-of-life issues, may be puzzled at first as to why this University of Cambridge lecturer in the law and ethics of medicine wants to address this question. But Keown's exposition will make even such readers, who believe we have wisely avoided many of the dilemmas Great Britain and other European countries are forced to face, realize that there are some dilemmas we have not escaped." The Hastings Center Report

"The lucidity of Keown's logic make this book a provocative and important contribution to the ethical and public policy issues involved in end-of-life care." The Hastings Center Report

"John Keown of the Cambridge University law faculty has produced an eminently readable and detailed analysis of the pros and cons of the euthanasia debate...he offers his book to help us approach the question with open and better-informed minds...For its wisdom, humor, thoughtful analysis, and utter precision of language, Euthanasia, Ethics, and Public Policy: An Argument Against Legislation is a worthy addition to one's library. It emphasizes a critical concern for all: when we fail to look out and care for the least of our citizens, the suffering and the dying, we begin to lose some of our humanity as a nation." The Journal of Legal Medicine

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521009331
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 340
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Table of Contents

Table of cases
List of abbreviations
Introduction 1
Pt. I Definitions 7
1 'Voluntary euthanasia' 9
2 Intended v. foreseen life-shortening 18
3 'Physician-assisted suicide' 31
Pt. II The ethical debate: human life, autonomy, legal hypocrisy, and the slippery slope 37
4 The value of human life 39
5 The value of autonomy 52
6 Legal hypocrisy? 58
7 The slippery slope arguments 70
Pt. III The Dutch experience: controlling VAE? condoning NVAE? 81
8 The guidelines 83
9 The first Survey: the incidence of 'euthanasia' 91
10 Breach of the guidelines 103
11 The slide towards NVAE 115
12 The second Survey 125
13 The Dutch in denial? 136
Pt. IV Australia and the United States 151
14 The Northern Territory: ROTTI 153
15 Oregon: the Death with Dignity Act 167
Pt. V Expert opinion 181
16 Expert committees 183
17 Supreme Courts 191
18 Medical associations 208
Pt. VI Passive euthanasia: withholding/withdrawing treatment and tube-feeding with intent to kill 215
19 The Tony Bland case 217
20 Beyond Bland: the BMA guidance on withholding/withdrawing medical treatment 239
21 The Winterton Bill 260
Conclusions 273
Afterword 282
Bibliography 292
Index 303
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