Cover image for The right to die debate : a documentary history
The right to die debate : a documentary history
Zucker, Marjorie B. (Marjorie Bass), 1919-
Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
xxx, 303 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm.
Death and how we face it -- Some literature about death -- Definitions of death -- Responses to the reality of death -- Medical advances, care of the dying, and the euthanasia movement before 1952 -- Death in the nineteenth century -- Mortality, 1900-1950 -- The early euthanasia movement -- The euthanasia movement in Great Britain and the United States -- Attempts to legalize euthanasia in the United States -- Opposition to the euthanasia movement -- Mercy killings -- Changes in medical care and the way we die: the euthanasia movement, 1953-1965 -- Advance directives: their legalization and implementation -- The original living will -- Medical power of attorney: health care agent appointed by the patient -- Federal law relating to advance directives -- The role of the courts in end-of-life decision making -- Suicide, assisted suicide, and euthanasia -- Attempts to legalize physician-assisted suicide -- Palliative care.
Reading Level:
1360 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
R726 .R498 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Rapid changes in medical care and in society's attitudes about death have made the right-to-die debate a timely topic, but its roots can be traced back to the founding of this country. High school and college students can explore the history of this debate through this unique collection of primary documents. Government reports, court cases, statements from religious groups, and many other contributions provide a thorough examination of the arguments for and against allowing people to make their own decisions about how and when they die. An explanatory introduction precedes each document to aid the user in understanding the various arguments that have been put forth in this debate, encouraging consideration of all sides when drawing conclusions.

Such issues as attitudes toward death, mercy killings, euthanasia, the development of living wills, and advance directives are explored in detail and are traced back to their early roots. Each of the volume's six parts examines a different subject within the debate and provides records ranging from the high profile court cases of Karen Quinlan and Nancy Cruzan to samples of living wills to a statement from Pope Pius II. Zucker presents the reader with a variety of ideas from many different people, including doctors, patients, religious leaders, and government officials, and presents a broad range of perspectives that will be a welcome resource for students wishing to explore this highly emotional topic from as many different angles as possible.

Author Notes

MARJORIE B. ZUCKER, a former Professor of Pathology at New York University Medical Center, now works at Partnership For Caring (formerly Choice in Dying).

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

From the Primary Documents in American History and Contemporary Issues series. There are 138 documents, ranging from Hamlet's act 3, scene 1, soliloquy from the Shakespeare play ("To die,--to sleep,--to sleep! perchance to dream") to Supreme Court decisions on assisted suicide and euthanasia.

Table of Contents

Death and How We Face It
Some Literature about Death
Definitions of Death
Medical Advances, Care of the Dying, and the Euthanasia Movement before 1952
Death in the Nineteenth Century Mortality, 1900-1950
The Early Euthanasia Movement Mercy Killings Changes in Medical Care and the Way We Die: The Euthanasia Movement, 1953-1965
Changes in Medical Care and Their Impact on the End of Life Euthanasia Advance Directives: Their Legalization and Implementation
The Original Living Will Statements in Support of Patient's Rights Legalizing the Living Will Medical Power of Attorney: Health Care Agent Appointed by the Patient Laws
That Permit Heath Care Decisions to Be Made by a Surrogate Who Was Not Appointed by the Patient Limitations of Advance Directives Federal Law Relating to Advance Directives Culture and Religious Responses to Advance Directives Attempts to Increase the Number of Completed Advance Directives Responses of Physicians to Advance Directives Cost Savings Do Not Resucitate (DNR) orders
The Role of the Courts in End-of-Life Decision Making
The Right to Die of Patients with Capacity
The Right to Die of Patients Who Have Lost Capacity Artificial Nutrition and Hydration
The U.S. Supreme Court Decision in the Case of Nancy Cruzan
The Right to Die of Patients Who Were Never Competent: Medical Futility What If the Health Care Facility Does Not Follow the Patient's Wishes to Terminate Care?
Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia Palliative Care