Authors Humphrey and Wickett, members of the Hemlock Society, discuss euthanasia from an historical perspective and as a practice in modern society. Focusing primarily on the problems created by increased medical technology and by doctors' basic commitment to preserving life, they consider the legal, religious, and ethical issues involved when patients choose to forgo, or families and health professionals choose to withhold or withdraw, life-supporting or life-extending treatment. They also consider active euthanasia (directly inducing death), citing cases to illustrate the ethical and legal issues involved. Although their work seems unnecessarily long and is biased in favor of euthanasia without support of sustained argument, it will be useful in medical ethics courses, as will Lynn's By No Extraordinary Means. The readings in this book deal specifically with the issue of whether to provide life-sustaining food or water to certain patients: the terminally ill, the irreversibly unconscious, severely handicapped new-borns, etc. The essays range from a description of the medical procedures used to provide such care or treatment and the relative pain and risk associated with each to the religious, ethical, and legal ramifications of providing or not providing sustenance. While the essays are of uneven quality, the book nevertheless is informative and readers should appreciate its overall content, especially the case study in the final chapter. Bonnie Hoffman, North Fork Counseling Service, Mattituck,
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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