LAST RIGHTS by Barbara J. Logue


Death Control and the Elderly in America
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 ``The advantages of deliberate death are too appealing to simply go away,'' asserts demographer Logue in this examination of the social forces that are driving us toward ``death control,'' especially for the old and frail. Logue draws frequent parallels between death control-- defined here as deliberate behavior that hastens death for a person suffering from an incurable condition, including the degenerative symptoms of old age--and birth control. Controlling reproduction, once a taboo topic and a criminal act, is now common practice, and Logue sees the same development occurring in the control of death as public acceptance of the idea, perception of its advantages, and the means of achievement come together. She considers the possible alternatives to death control, such as better care for the frail elderly, and concludes that improving care may actually lead to an increase in deliberate deaths as care-givers come to see that caring is consistent with letting- go, even with helping to let go. Logue acknowledges that death control has risks as well as advantages and that these risks are not spread evenly: gender, race, and class come into play. She's confident, however, that the risks can be minimized with proper legislation, and that just as we have done away with back-alley abortions, so can we do away with ``back-alley euthanasia.'' Opponents of death control will argue that the risks are inadequately explored here, but if Logue's goal is to document the growing acceptance of death control and to stimulate debate on the issue, she succeeds. A well-researched, clear presentation of a tough topic. (For an opposing view, see Rita Marker's Deadly Compassion, reviewed below.)

Pub Date: April 12th, 1993
ISBN: 0-669-27370-8
Page count: 300pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1993