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May 19, 1989


JAMA. 1989;261(19):2843-2845. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03420190119035

This article will focus on the related issues of euthanasia and fetal tissue research. Both raise fundamental questions about the meaning of human life and have occasioned intensive debates because of the moral heterogeneity of our society.

Active, voluntary euthanasia is the deliberate ending of the life of a terminally ill patient who requests it. Most recently, the subject has been thrust into public consciousness by reports of its practice in the Netherlands,1 by the move to place the "Humane and Dignified Death Initiative"2 on the 1988 California ballot, by The Journal's publication of "It's Over, Debbie,"3 and by reports of the Rosier case in Florida, where a physician-husband was acquitted in the mercy killing of his wife (New York Times, December 2, 1988;sect A:20).

It is increasingly apparent that many people believe euthanasia to be morally licit and favor its legalization. In California, 175 000 people