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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Rebecca L Volpe, B.A.(Saint Louis University)
Description: In this book, Robert Young asserts that there is a strong case for legalizing physician-assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia, but that it is neither justifiable nor necessary to make a case for non-voluntary euthanasia. The stated lens of the book is philosophical, but the author does an excellent job of intertwining relevant information from other fields, such as theology, law, and medicine.
Purpose: The purpose is to help change the legal status of medically assisted dying in the author's own country - Australia — and other places throughout the world, through an interdisciplinary examination of medically assisted death. This objective is approached through a carefully developed stance on the philosophical acceptability of medically assisted death, as well as a refreshing consideration of relevant objections and practical hurdles.
Audience: Although this is an essay in applied philosophy, it is intended to be accessible to those from related disciplines as well as those directly involved in the formation of public policy. With its clear writing and oft-stated objectives, the book easily fulfills these aspirations.
Features: The author first lays out the positive argument for medically assisted death, then thoroughly addresses many of the primary objections, including professional integrity, double effect, competence, advance directives, the slippery slope, and the sanctity of human life. A concluding chapter briefly summarizes the argument and finds that voluntary forms of medically assisted death should be made legal in jurisdictions beyond The Netherlands, Oregon, and Belgium. A respectable reference list, a short list of legal cases, and an index of names and subjects help make this book a first-rate reference tool.
Assessment: The author's thorough and precise argument leaves little to be desired from a work of bioethics. The inclusion of information from a wide range of fields represents the interdisciplinary nature of bioethics at its best. Although physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia can be viewed as somewhat overexamined in the bioethics literature, Robert Young articulates his argument in an interesting and refreshingly accessible fashion.