Angels of Death: Exploring the Euthanasia Underground

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Yale University Press, 2002 - Medical - 325 pages
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This groundbreaking book uncovers the hidden world of illicit physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia. Through the frank and often troubling first-hand accounts of health professionals who have been involved in assisted death, the book records for the first time this secret but real area of medical and nursing practice. Through face-to-face interviews with these "angels of death, " Roger S. Magnusson explores the social practices, relationships, and networks that constitute "underground" euthanasia.

How is assisted death actually practiced within health care settings? What are the issues that surround the making of such a momentous decision? How do health care workers justify their attitudes and actions in this area? Angels of Death offers detailed answers to these questions and many others. The doctors, nurses, and therapists who were interviewed pseudonymously for this study work in the HIV/AIDS communities in the United States and Australia. Their perspectives and practices, their attitudes and feelings, illuminate the assisted death debate and expose a variety of disturbing issues, including the reality of "botched attempts, " euthanasia without consent, and unduly hasty measures to bring about death. The testimony of medical practitioners, combined with Magnusson's thoughtful assessment of the issues, will be of intense interest to both opponents and advocates of proposals to legalize euthanasia.

 

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Contents

Who would do such a thing?
7
Doctors who kill
23
Voices in the euthanasia debate
35
Sanctity of life the slow death of an idea?
54
Exploring the meaning of suicide talk
68
Responding to euthanasia requests with contributions from P H Ballis
100
People practices and potions
128
Doing fieldwork in the euthanasia underground with P H Ballis
152
Disturbing issues
200
More disturbing issues
230
Demystifying euthanasia practice
248
Euthanasia policy hard questions hard consequences
260
The recruitment strategy and methodology adopted in this study
282
Notes
285
Bibliography
307
Index
322

The underground community
174

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About the author (2002)

Roger S. Magnusson is senior lecturer and coordinator, Health Law Program, Faculty of Law, The University of Sydney, Australia.

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