Dying has become a standard topic of debate in many social, political, and policy contexts. Certainly proper care of patients at the end of life continues to stimulate discussion in critical care settings. In some sections of the public and among certain healthcare providers, the discourse surrounding end-of-life care seems in some ways to presume the goodness of assisted suicide and, in certain prescribed circumstances, euthanasia. In this view, some means of directly hastening death either ought to be allowed and supported by medicine right now or, if not now, then once certain regulatory policies and guidelines are in place. To intervene to hasten death is seen as the most humane approach to care at the end of life when suffering is unavoidable or intractable.

Those in favor of hastening death draw on utilitarian and principle-based analyses in which...

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