Chapter

Safe, Legal, Rare?

Margaret Pabst Battin

in Ending Life

Published in print May 2005 | ISBN: 9780195140279
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199850280 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195140279.003.0018
Safe, Legal, Rare?

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Cultural change is well recognized in the recent history of death and dying in the contemporary world. In the wake of Elizabeth Kübler-Ross's 1969 work On Death and Dying, not only has it become socially acceptable to talk about death and dying with someone who is terminally ill, but, as traditional religious and legal strictures loosen, it is becoming possible for a person facing death to consider what role he or she wants to play in the forthcoming death. The United States has seen rapid evolution in attitudes and practices surrounding death and dying over the last several decades, from the early legal recognition in the California Natural Death Act (1976) of a patient's right to refuse life-prolonging treatment in the face of terminal illness, to Oregon's legalization of physician-assisted suicide. This chapter explores the prospect of cultural change in the future, and the possibility that physician-assisted suicide may come to look very, very different from the desperation move that it is taken to be now.

Keywords: United States; cultural change; physician-assisted suicide; Oregon; terminal illness; death; dying

Chapter.  6214 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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