Advances in technology have enabled the medical profession to keep people alive long after the normal possibilities of human living--and even of consciousness itself--have ceased. The Karen Quinlan case has focused public attention on the painful decision faced by those involved in such instances and on the intractability of the moral, medical, legal, and economic issues involved. These issues are not new; indeed, such problems are as old as death itself. But the burden laid on us by our own science, and by our own altered family structures, appears to be of a new order. It raises issues that intimately affect the quality of life in our society and that require new approaches. The issues discussed in this book demand the sensitive attention of doctors, theologians, philosophers, social workers, lawyers--of all those, in short, whose work brings them in contact with the kind of decision the voluntary termination of life represents.
Table of Contents
Foreword -- Introduction -- Definitions of Death: Where to Draw the Lines and Why -- What Is the Function of Medicine?1 -- Psychosocial Factors in Coping with Dying -- Strategic Relationships in Dying -- The Right to Die Garrulously -- Euthanasia -- The Right to Die and the Obligation to Care: Allowing to Die, Killing for Mercy, and Suicide -- Demands for Life and Requests for Death: The Judicial Dilemma