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ss triple helix - spring 2012,  Debating Euthanasia

Debating Euthanasia

Emily Jackson and John Keown
Hart Publishing, 2012
£15 Pb 190pp
ISBN 978 1 84946 178 8

The third volume in ths series Dabating Law allows two opposting experts around 30,000 words each to make their case, 'blind' of what the other will say. the result is accessible and engaging, and is bang up to date, including global cases and references from 2011.

LSE law professor Emily Jackson writes 'in favour of the legalisation of assisted dying'. Elegantly and occasionally movingly, she makes the case as convincingly as I have ever seen it made, and for the reader unfamiliar with both sides of the argument, she is superficially seductive.

At slightly greater length, heavier in style, and more extensively referenced (169 against Jackson's 71), Professor John Keown, who has moved from Cambridge to Georgetown, argues 'against decriminalising euthanasia; for improving care'. He has done his homework. Although not seeing Jackson's contribution here, he analyses her previous publications and with the quantitative data from the Netherlands and from Oregon on his side, counters her case.

My verdict on the debate? Keown, by a knockout, though after you have read it, you may only agree he wins overwhelmingly on points. My verdict on the book? A state of the art summary of principles and practice.

Andrew Fergusson chairs the advisory group of the CNK.

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