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ss triple helix - Easter 2011,  A Time to Live

A Time to Live

The case against euthanasia and assisted suicide
George Pitcher
Monarch Books 2010
£8.99 Pb 158pp
ISBN 9781854249876

The author makes a very strong case against euthanasia and against 'assisted dying' as a route to its legalisation. He starts with his experience of his mother's death and uses accounts of others' experiences effectively. Pitcher tackles social, medical, legal and theological arguments thoughtfully, but so as to make the book interesting and readable. As an Anglican minister and Religious Editor and columnist at the Daily Telegraph he writes authoritatively, and is up to date with recent developments such as the UK Director of Public Prosecutions' guidelines.

His central and longest section is concerned with current practice in Oregon, Holland and Switzerland. He shows clearly the dangers for vulnerable and disabled people, as well as the effect that introducing euthanasia has had on the development of palliative care in these places, compared with that available in the UK.

In his final two chapters Pitcher discusses a theological viewpoint new to me, that of 'open theism'. I found it interesting, but suspect that many may not be able to agree with it. With this proviso, I would recommend the book as a valuable and persuasive addition to the literature against assisted dying and euthanasia.

Anthony Smith is a retired palliative care physician and surgeon, and a tutor with PRIME

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