Author(s): Roger S. Magnusson
Public discussion of euthanasia and assisted suicide is growing. In Australia as elsewhere the debate is difficult, contentious and confronting, and hampered by the secrecy that necessarily surrounds illegal practice. Most people simply have no way of knowing how, and how often, medically assisted death actually occurs. Roger Magnusson presents, for the first time, detailed first-hand accounts by doctors, nurses, therapists and other health professionals who have been participants in assisted death. All have been intimately involved in caring for people with AIDS, both in Australia and in California. He places these ambivalent, self-incriminating accounts within the broader context of the right-to-die debate and the challenges of palliative care. The frankness of the health workers and the richness of their collected evidence set this book apart. From within a culture of deception they speak knowingly and movingly of the merciful release of a peaceful death, while acknowledging the reality of 'botched attempts', euthanasia without consent, precipitative euthanasia, lack of accountability and professional distance, and many other disturbing issues. Angels of Death provides a window into the 'euthanasia underground'-a secret part of medicine and nursing that few professionals will publicly acknowledge. It brings a sense of urgency and precision to public debate, and equips us all to think more independently about these crucial issues.
Dr. Roger Magnusson is senior lecturer in the Faculty of Law at the University of Sydney and co-ordinator of the Faculty's postgraduate Health Law Program