Image by Shutterstock.
Image by Shutterstock.

The U.S., in Oregon and  other states, and Europe in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Switzerland, have advanced towards accepting assisted dying and euthanasia as an integral part of how we manage death. The issue will only get more important as secular people everywhere turn their attention to a "good" death, one that does not entail years of suffering, expenditure, and upset for children, and which acknowledges the right to the end we want at the time of our own choosing. 

These arguments are being met with strong counter-arguments, namely, that vulnerable old people may be pushed into death, that the normalisation of assisted dying will lead to a widening of criteria, from the terminal ill to mentally ill individuals, as has already happened in the Netherlands, and, later on, to anyone who is "tired" of life. Lurking behind the scenes is the suspicion that assisted dying will end up as a way for the "economically unproductive" to be culled. 

By comparing the regimes that are currently in place in Europe and the United States, and talking to practitioners, opponents, and the terminal ill, Christopher de Bellaigue scrutinizes these complexities as much of the world, divested of metaphysical concerns, reappraises death and how best to approach it.  

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