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Books, Journals, New Media
November 15, 2000

EthicsIs There a Duty to Die?

Author Affiliations

Harriet S.MeyerMD, Contributing EditorDavid H.MorseMS, Journal Review EditorRobertHoganMD, adviser for new media


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JAMA. 2000;284(19):2526-2527. doi:10.1001/jama.284.19.2526-JBK1115-3-1

Surely, anyone with a little imagination can think of a situation in which it is plausible to say that someone has "a duty to die." For example, it seems plausible to refer to such a duty in relation to a clandestine Central Intelligence Agency agent who is captured by terrorists and who has previously agreed to kill himself so that he will not be forced to reveal critical secrets. However, the focus of Is There a Duty to Die? is on a more controversial range of cases: those in which a person is dying or has substantial physical or cognitive impairments and whose care is very costly or burdensome.

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