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Euthanasia, Ethics and Public Policy
An Argument against Legalisation

2nd Edition

Part of Cambridge Bioethics and Law

  • Author: John Keown, Georgetown University, Washington DC
  • Date Published: October 2018
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107618336


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About the Authors
  • This book argues against the legalisation of voluntary euthanasia and/or physician-assisted suicide on the ground that, even if they were ethically defensible in certain 'hard cases', neither could be effectively controlled by law. It maintains that the experience of legalisation in the Netherlands, Belgium and Oregon lends support to the two 'slippery slope' arguments against legalisation, the 'empirical' and the 'logical'. The empirical argument challenges the feasibility of drafting and enforcing adequate safeguards against abuse and mistake; the logical argument shows that acceptance of the case for euthanasia in the case of suffering patients who request it logically involves acceptance of euthanasia for suffering patients who are unable to request it, such as infants and those with advanced dementia.

    • Whereas most books on the subject argue in favour of legalisation, this book argues against legalisation
    • Focuses on the two 'slippery slope' arguments against legalisation, the 'practical' and the 'logical' arguments
    • Documents the failure of the law in three key jurisdictions - the Netherlands, Belgium and Oregon - to ensure effective control
    • Provides an up-to-date account of international developments, and how they have done nothing to weaken the argument against legalisation
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '… magisterial …' Lord Judge, former Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales

    'A masterly analysis of the results of legalisation. Future discussions can, and must, be evidence-based.' Baroness Onora O'Neill, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, and former Principal of Newnham College, University of Cambridge

    'Though it hardly seems possible, this updating of the classic text on the quintessential issue in modern medicine has made its analysis of the ethical and legal issues in euthanasia even more trenchant and illuminating.' Alexander M. Capron, Scott H. Bice Chair in Healthcare Law, Policy and Ethics, University of Southern California, and former Director of Ethics and Health Law at the World Health Organization

    'John Keown is undoubtedly one of the all-time leading writers on assisted suicide and euthanasia. He writes with great power and clarity.' Yale Kamisar, Clarence Darrow Distinguished University Professor of Law Emeritus, University of Michigan

    'Written with a clear and brilliant exposition of difficult problems, Silvana Sciarra combines in this book her deep academic knowledge and her experience as judge of the Italian Constitutional Court offering to the reader a sharp analysis of the reciprocal influence of European sources and national legal systems of labour Law.' Guido Alpa, Sapienza Università di Roma

    Praise for the first edition: '… the best book in print on the case against the legalisation of euthanasia.' The Tablet

    Praise for the first edition: '… a most significant contribution to the debate …' Medical Law Review

    Praise for the first edition: 'Keown's clarity of thought explodes myths and beats an accessible path through a detailed jungle of morality and social history.' British Medical Journal

    'Euthanasia, Ethics and Public Policy is a meticulous, highly readable, and profoundly disturbing examination of the merits of the slippery slope arguments. … John Keown's book is essential reading for everyone interested in the AD [Assisted Dying] debate (which should be all of us) - regardless of personal conviction.' Charles Foster, New Law Journal

    'This is the latest addition to John Keown's library of excellent books to do with euthanasia … and … the best. This book is the best collection of information regarding euthanasia that I have seen and it is strongly recommended if you have any interest in the euthanasia and assisted-dying debate.' Roger Woodruff, International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care Newsletter

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    Product details

    • Edition: 2nd Edition
    • Date Published: October 2018
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107618336
    • length: 558 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 152 x 25 mm
    • weight: 0.89kg
    • contains: 1 b/w illus. 2 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Definitions:
    1. Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide
    2. Intended v. foreseen life-shortening
    Part II. The Ethical Debate: Human Life, Autonomy, Legal Hypocrisy, and the 'Slippery Slope'
    3. The value of human life
    4. The value of autonomy
    5. Legal hypocrisy?
    6. The slippery slope arguments
    Part III. The Dutch Experience:
    7. The guidelines
    8. The first survey: the incidence of 'euthanasia'
    9. Breach of the guidelines
    10. The slide towards NVAE
    11. The second survey
    12. The Dutch in denial?
    13. The Euthanasia Act and the Code of Practice
    14. Effective control since 2002?
    15. Continuing concerns
    16. A right to physician-assisted suicide by stopping eating and drinking?
    17. Assisted suicide for the elderly with 'completed lives'
    Part IV. Belgium:
    18. The Belgian Legislation
    19. The lack of effective control
    Part V. Australia:
    20. The Northern Territory: ROTTI
    Part VI. The United States:
    21. The United States: Oregon and six other jurisdictions
    22. The US Supreme Court: Glucksberg and Vacco
    Part VII. Canada:
    23. The Supreme Court of Canada: the Carter case
    24. Canada's euthanasia legislation
    25. Conclusion.

  • Author

    John Keown, Georgetown University, Washington DC
    John Keown is a leading and widely-published authority on the law and ethics of medicine. Before being appointed to the Rose Kennedy Chair in the Kennedy Institute of Ethics at Georgetown, he taught medical law in the Faculty of Law at Cambridge. In 2015 he was made a Doctor of Civil Law by Oxford for his contribution to law and bioethics. A focus of his research, which has been cited by the Law Lords and by the US Supreme Court, has been the law and practice of euthanasia in the Netherlands. That research formed the centrepiece to the first edition of this work, which was widely acclaimed.

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