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Hastened death: Physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia in ALS 

Hastened death: Physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia in ALS
Hastened death: Physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia in ALS

James A. Russell

and Zachary Simmons

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date: 24 February 2020

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), more than any other disease, promotes patient interest in hastened death. From an ethical perspective, end-of-life decision making should pivot on patient-centric considerations. However, medical decisions made by patients and their physicians are embedded in societal mores and the law. Opinions regarding the morality of physician participation in hastened-death and its incorporation into public policy remain sharply divided. This chapter attempts to provide a contemporary and measured review of the differing perspectives and the current status of physician participation in hastened-death. The focus will be on issues particularly relevant to ALS patients and those of us who care for them. Our primary goal is to provide for ALS clinicians a foundation upon which their individual consciences may determine whether their lawful participation in hastened-death can ever be considered an ethically permissible action or a socially acceptable policy.

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