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JAMA Revisited
January 19, 2016


JAMA. 2016;315(3):310. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.17071

Originally Published October 11, 1971 | JAMA. 1971;218(2):249.

In discussing genetic engineering, Abelson,1 as he commented on the difficulties imposed by scientific and technologic advances, stated, “Especially disturbing are aspects of the measures taken to prolong life in the very sick and very old. Death of a loved one was bad enough when it was in the hands of God; now it is often a much more distressing experience.”

Williams and his colleagues at the University of Washington School of Medicine have had a continuing interest in the “quality of death” as well as the “quality of life.” In his president’s address before the Association of American Physicians, Williams2 reported the responses to a questionnaire from members of that association and from members of the Association of Professors of Medicine. Among the questions were ones relating to euthanasia, defined as encouragement of death for the relief of suffering.