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Books, Journals, New Media
February 26, 2003


Author Affiliations

Books, Journals, New Media Section Editor: Harriet S. Meyer, MD, Contributing Editor, JAMA; David H. Morse, MS, University of Southern California, Norris Medical Library, Journal Review Editor; adviser for new media, Robert Hogan, MD, San Diego.

JAMA. 2003;289(8):1048-1049. doi:10.1001/jama.289.8.1048

The debate over euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide is less about medical science and more about deeply held personal and moral convictions. Commentary on the subject often reflects an author's particular moral or political point of view. So it is with Roger Magnusson's study of euthanasia, Angels of Death.

The book has as its backdrop the political controversy over euthanasia in Australia, where the author is senior lecturer in the Health Law Program, Faculty of Law, University of Sydney. In 1995, the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly legalized euthanasia. The Australian Parliament subsequently overturned the law in 1997. Magnusson's work begins not with a hypothesis to be proved or disproved, but rather with a political stance: if euthanasia can be shown to occur despite legal prohibition, then this proves that prohibition is a failure, and therefore the solution is legalization with appropriate safeguards.

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