Dying With Dignity: A Reading List About the Right-to-Die Debate…


From Longreads

Should patients suffering from terminal illnesses and unbearable pain be able to make the decision to end their lives? Helping the terminally ill end their lives is illegal in all but five states in the U.S. Here, five stories looking at the right-to-die debate.

1. “Helping Dad Die: A Daughter’s Story.” (Catherine Syer, Financial Times)

In the U.K., Britons with terminal illnesses or incurable diseases have nowhere to go if they want aid in dying. A daughter’s personal story about finding a way to ease her father’s suffering.

2. “The Right to Die is the Right to Live.” (Lisa Carver, Vice Magazine)

A mother decides to give her son Wolf, a talented artist who suffers from a range of ailments, autonomy over his own life.

3. “A Bitter End.” (Emily Guendelsberger, Philadelphia City Paper)

A daughter gets caught up in a right-to-die case after she hands morphine to her 92-year-old father, who, for a long time, had expressed a desire to die.

4. “The New Public Face of American Assisted Suicide.” (Manuel Roig-Franzia, Washington Post)

Lawrence Egbert, a retired anesthesiologist from Baltimore, has been present for 100 suicides in the last 15 years. But he is more reluctant in his leading role, in contrast to the late Jack Kevorkian.

5. “A Life-or-Death Situation.” (Robin Marantz Henig, New York Times)

Bioethicist Peggy Battin fought for the right for people to end their own lives. And then her husband got into an accident: “‘It is not just about terminally ill people in general in a kind of abstract way now,’ she wrote after the accident; ‘it’s also about my husband, Brooke. I still love him, that’s a simple fact. What if he wanted to die? Can I imagine standing by while his ventilator was switched off?’”


A thoroughly practical guide to euthanasia is available in Derek Humphrey’s book: “Final Exit – The Practicalities of Self-Deliverance for the Dying”. published in 1991 by the founder of the Hemlock Society. The only problem is that Phenobarbital is not easily available in the United States.

Thank you for posting this excellent article. I’m a member of Compassion and Choices, which is an activist group working hard to change the laws around this issue. They also have a website with lots of good information and need all the help they can get. So support them if you can!