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Practitioner's Guide to Health Care Law and Policy

Abstract

Physician-assisted suicide has been the subject of fierce debate over the past few decades, and there is no doubt that it is an extremely sensitive issue with compelling arguments from both its detractors and its supporters. Its opponents usually refer to the practice of physician-assisted suicide by either that name, simply “suicide”, or euthanasia. Advocates of physician-assisted suicide term the procedure as physician-assisted death, physician aid in dying, or “death with dignity.” This Note will use the term “physician-assisted suicide”, as that seems to be the most neutral way to term the practice. In order to make sure that the connotations behind this term are expressed correctly and persuasively, it is important to begin with a discussion of various terms related to the broader concept of “the right to die”, of which physician-assisted suicide is one subcategory.

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