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Arch Intern Med. 1994 Sep 12;154(17):1890-901.

Euthanasia. Historical, ethical, and empiric perspectives.

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Division of Cancer Control and Epidemiology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Mass.


Debates about the ethics of euthanasia date from ancient Greece and Rome. In 1870, S. D. Williams, a nonphysician, proposed that anesthetics be used to intentionally end the lives of patients. Between 1870 and 1936, a debate about the ethics of euthanasia raged in the United States and Britain. These debates predate and invoke different arguments than do debates about euthanasia in Germany. Recognizing the increased interest in euthanasia, this article reviews the definitions related to euthanasia, the historical record of debates concerning euthanasia, the arguments for and against euthanasia, the situation in the Netherlands, and the empirical data regarding euthanasia in the United States.

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