The End of Euthanasia

The End of Euthanasia - The New Republic p16(1 The end of...

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The New Republic , May 17, 1999 p16(1) The end of euthanasia ? Death's Door. (Jack Kervorkian's murder conviction) Ezekiel J. Emanuel. Abstract: Physician Jack Kevorkian was convicted of second-degree murder in March, 1999, bringing a stop to his actions of assisted suicide. Advocates for euthanasia and assisted are losing legal and political battles in courts and state legislatures. Physicians are developing better ways to care for terminal patients, so the practices may no longer be needed. Full Text: COPYRIGHT 1999 The New Republic, Inc. Ezekiel J. Emanuel is an oncologist and chief of the Department of Clinical Bioethics at the Clinical Center at the National Institutes of Health. The views expressed in this article do not reflect any official position of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Jack Kevorkian's luck has finally run out. After three previous acquittals, the poster boy for euthanasia was convicted of second-degree murder on March 26 and sentenced to ten to 25 years in prison. "You had the audacity to go on national television, show the world what you did, and dare the prosecution to stop you," Judge Jessica Cooper told Dr. Death. "Well, sir, consider yourself stopped." Stopping Kevorkian, of course, isn't the same thing as stopping euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide, but his downfall is emblematic of a larger consensus developing against these practices. In the courts, in state legislatures, in public opinion polls, and in the medical community, advocates for euthanasia and assisted suicide are losing the legal and political battle. Indeed, as Americans look more closely at the consequences of euthanasia and assisted suicide--and as physicians develop better ways to care for the dying-- it's the argument for these practices that may soon be put out of its misery. The argument is an old one. In modern times, it was first articulated by Samuel Williams, in an 1870 speech before the Birmingham (England) Speculative Club. "[I]n all cases of hopeless and painful illness," he said, "it should be the
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recognized duty of the medical attendant, whenever so desired by the patient, to administer chloroform . .. so as to destroy consciousness at once, and put the sufferer to a quick and painless death." Williams's speech caused a political and medical uproar in Great Britain, and, before long, the debate had landed on American shores. In 1905,
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The End of Euthanasia - The New Republic p16(1 The end of...

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