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.
Baroness Mary Warnock is an Independent Life Peer in the House of Lords, and a writer and broadcaster. A former member of the House of Lords Select Committee on Euthanasia, she is the author of many books, including An Intelligent Person's Guide to Ethics and Making Babies: Is There a Right to Have Children?
Elisabeth Macdonald is a consultant Cancer Specialist at Guys' and St. Thomas' Teaching Hospitals in London and currently teaches Communication Skills to medical undergraduates at Guys Hospital. She is the author of Difficult Conversations in Medicine.