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Easeful Death sets out in straightforward terms the main arguments both for and against the legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia. The legal choices confronting those caring for the terminally ill, and indeed those patients themselves who may be facing intolerable suffering towards the end of their lives, have been the cause of fierce public debate in recent years. The book takes as its starting point attempts in Britain and other countries to bring compassion into the rules governing the end of a patient's life. Drawing on experience in the Netherlands, Belgium, and the US state of Oregon, where either assisted dying or euthanasia have been legalized, the authors explore the philosophical and ethical views on both sides of the debate, and examine how different legislative proposals would affect different members of society, from the very young to the very old. They describe the practical, medical processes of palliative care, self-denial of food and water, and assisted dying and euthanasia, and ultimately conclude that the public is ready to embrace a more compassionate approach to assisted dying. This sensitive and authoritative short volume is informed throughout by a strong sense that, whatever the results of the legislative argument, compassion for one another must be both the guide and the restraint upon the way we treat people who are dying or who want to die.
About the Author
Baroness Mary Warnock is a philosopher renowned for her writing on moral issues. Previously a Fellow and Tutor in Philosophy at St Hugh's College, Oxford, and Mistress of Girton College, Cambridge, she is now an Independent Life Peer in the House of Lords, and a writer and broadcaster. She was Chairman of the UK Committee of Inquiry into the Education of Children with Special Needs (report 1978); Chairman of the UK Committee of Inquiry into Human Fertility and Embryology (report 1984) and a Member of the House of Lords Select Committee on Euthanasia (1993). She is a Fellow of the British Academy, and Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh. Her numerous books include An Intelligent Person's Guide to Ethics (2004), and Making Babies: Is There a Right To Have Children?(2001). Elisabeth Macdonald has spent her career working in cancer medicine in the UK as well as periods as a Consultant Oncologist in France and in research at Stanford University, California. In 1988 she was appointed a consultant Cancer Specialist at Guy's and St Thomas' Teaching Hospitals in London. Her wide clinical experience includes palliative care in the hospital setting. She has an M.A. in Medical Law and Ethics from Kings College London and has taught medical ethics as an external tutor at Ethox, The Institute for Health Science in Oxford. She has retired from clinical practice and currently teaches Communication Skills to medical undergraduates at Guys Hospital. She also continues a medico-legal practice as an "Expert Witness". Her book on communication in medicine, Difficult Conversations in Medicine aimed at both medical students and patients, was published in 2004.