FREEDOM TO DIE: Moral and Legal Aspects of Euthanasia by O. Ruth Russell

FREEDOM TO DIE: Moral and Legal Aspects of Euthanasia

Email this review


There have been several books on the broader subjects of death and dying in the past year or two -- only one, insofar as we know, on euthanasia per se (Marya Mannes' personal apostrophe -- Last Rights) and this is the first exhaustive history of the subject -- exhaustive rather than intensive, itemizing and summarizing what has been said, thought and done. Important then as a basis to work from. The study defines and discusses the opinions of the near and far (back to the Greeks, of course) past with many examples of individual incidents, court cases and trials, polls of the general public here and in Britain -- as much of the material is based there -- and publications. The first decade of real activism was the '30's -- resumed again in the '60's; most opposed to the idea of euthanasia was of course the Catholic Church and originally and officially the A.M.A. under Fishbein. Now it is estimated that 75 percent of doctors practice negative euthanasia, and the author wisely eliminates the hairline distinction between positive and negative, as well as other arguments levied -- moral, ethical, legal, etc. Miss Russell states her position clearly at the beginning -- legislation must be provided that will honor the request of the patient or the patient's legal guardian and eliminate so much suffering, and sheer uselessness, of those both old and young who cannot function. None of that catalytic brilliance of the great work on the subject to which she refers at length -- Glanville Williams' The Sanctity of Life and the Criminal Law (still in print) -- but important in reviewing the evolution of our acceptance of death as ""man's friend"" since then.

Pub Date: March 15th, 1975
Publisher: Human Sciences Press/Behavioral Publications