Public Health, Populations, and Lethal Ingestion
Allison, Kirk C
Disability and health journal 2010 Jan; 3(1): 56-70
In 2008 the American Public Health Association endorsed lethal ingestion as a public health policy as part of "Patients' Rights to Self-Determination at the End of Life." Although rhetoric framing physician-assisted suicide (PAS) invokes individual autonomy, public health's focus is populations. Even regarding treatment refusal, its logic and coercive power (e.g., quarantine) subordinate autonomy to population interests. Research indicates health practitioners and disciplines that are closer to persons with terminal conditions oppose more PAS than those having little contact: specifically, public health associations are more willing to authorize life-ending means than disciplines directly caring for the dying. Why is that the case and with what consequences for populations and public health?
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