Does a competent person suffering from a terminal illness or enduring an otherwise burdensome existence, who considers his life no longer of value but is incapable of ending it, have a right to be helped to die? Should someone for whom further medical treatment would be futile be allowed to die regardless of expressing a preference to be given all possible treatment? These are some of the questions that are asked and answered in this wide-ranging discussion of both the morality of medically assisted death and the justifiability of making certain instances legal. A case is offered in support of the moral and legal permissibility of specified instances of medically assisted death, along with responses to the main objections that have been levelled against it. The philosophical argument is bolstered by empirical evidence from The Netherlands and Oregon where voluntary euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide are already legal.
1. Introduction; 2. A case for the legalisation of voluntary medically assisted death; 3. Medical futility; 4. Physician-assisted suicide; 5. The sanctity of human life; 6. Killing versus letting die, the doctrine of double effect, and palliative care for the dying; 7. Professional integrity and voluntary medically assisted death; 8. Competence and end-of-life decision making; 9. Advance directives; 10. Voluntary medically assisted death and slippery slope arguments; 11. Non-voluntary euthanasia; 12. Concluding remarks.