HEALTH & MEDICINE

The Inevitable: Dispatches on the Right to Die

St. Martin’s. Mar. 2021. 352p. ISBN 9781250201461. $27.99. MED
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Journalist Engelhart, rather than rehashing the arguments for and against assisted suicide (preferably known now as Medical Aid in Dying or Physician Assisted Death), presents the current state of the debate in the stories of six people: a California doctor who specializes in assisted death; a woman in England who buys Nembutal from Mexican veterinary supply stores; a young woman in New Mexico with multiple sclerosis who travels to a euthanasia clinic in Switzerland then changes her mind; a woman with dementia in Oregon; a young Canadian man with severe mental illness; and Dr. Philip Nitschke, the founder of Exit International, an organization that teaches people how to take their own lives. Engelhart does not take sides, but allows the individuals profiled to present their own stories. This fast-paced medical history also includes accounts of figures such as Dr. Jack Kevorkian, who campaigned for the legalization of assisted death and was arrested and tried for his role in the death of a patient. Nine states and the District of Columbia now have some sort of assisted dying statues, but the laws vary widely and there are many restrictions.
VERDICT A must-read for anyone concerned about quality of life at the end of life.

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