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Physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia: A medical and psychological perspective 

Physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia: A medical and psychological perspective
Physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia: A medical and psychological perspective

Herbert Hendin

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date: 21 May 2022

Until relatively recently it did not seem possible to relieve much of the suffering associated with serious or terminal illness. Depression associated with physical illness was assumed to be its natural and inevitable consequence. This mixture of assumptions and facts provided the impetus for the Dutch to begin to sanction assisted suicide and euthanasia more than a decade before the advances in palliative care of the last fifteen years.

This chapter examines the practice of assisted suicide and euthanasia in the Netherlands from a medical and psychological perspective: the Netherlands is the only country to have had extensive experience in giving legal sanction to both practices. From the same perspective, the chapter examines assisted suicide in the state of Oregon, which has had a decade of experience with legalized assisted suicide, and is the only state in the United States to have legalized the practice. The experience of Belgium and Switzerland, the two other countries that have given legal sanction to assisted suicide (Switzerland) or euthanasia (Belgium) is discussed briefly. Both countries appear to have been stimulated, at least in part, by the experience of the Netherlands and Oregon.

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