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October 18, 1995

Ethical Issues in Neurology

Author Affiliations

Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation La Jolla, Calif

JAMA. 1995;274(15):1245-1246. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03530150069038

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Right to death. Physician-assisted suicide. Euthanasia. Debate rages in the popular media regarding these topics. Derek Humphry's Final Exit, best described as a suicide manual for patients published by the Hemlock Society, is a best-seller. In several states, at least, there have been ballot initiatives best characterized as right to die. Nationwide polls suggest that some US citizens favor greater control over their circumstances at the end of life. The first document in the patient's chart is often a physician's directive giving explicit instructions regarding extent of treatment.

Ethical Issues in Neurology addresses all these issues from a professional perspective in a clear, comprehensive, and even-handed style. Furthermore, the book is actually interesting in contradistinction to so many papers on ethics, which manage to take the vibrant stuff of life and reduce it to boring technicalities. I was impressed that Bernat assembles the arguments pro and con but then offers

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