The end of life
in Medicine, patients and the law (sixth edition)
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When should the law permit assistance for those who seek to end their lives? When, if ever, should attempts may be made to hasten death when there is excessive suffering and when the cause is hopeless (euthanasia)? These issues are examined in Chapter 19 on the End of Life. We examine key cases from the European Court of Human Rights (including Pretty v UK) and domestic courts (including R (Purdy) v DPP and the recent Nicklinson litigation). We look at legislative proposals on physician assisted suicide (PAS) and assisted dying. In the second half of the chapter we consider whether efforts always be made to keep a dying person alive in spite of the additional suffering incurred by that person and the cost in terms of human dignity. We examine cases dealing with patients in a persistent vegetative state (PVS) such as Airedale NHS Trust v Bland, and the developing law on end of life questions for those in a minimally conscious state.

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