Dying with Dignity
A Legal Approach to Assisted Death
by Giza Lopes
April 2015, 253pp, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-3097-6
$65, £50, 57€, A90
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-3098-3
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

In 2013, Oregon physicians prescribed lethal medications for 122 terminally ill patients.

Providing a thorough, well-researched investigation of the socio-legal issues surrounding medically assisted death for the past century, this book traces the origins of the controversy and discusses the future of policymaking in this arena domestically and abroad.

Should terminally ill adults be allowed to kill themselves with their physician’s assistance? While a few American states—as well as Holland, Switzerland, Belgium, and Luxembourg—have answered “yes,” in the vast majority of the United States, assisted death remains illegal. This book provides a historical and comparative perspective that not only frames contemporary debates about assisted death and deepens readers’ understanding of the issues at stake, but also enables realistic predictions for the likelihood of the future diffusion of legalization to more countries or states—the consequences of which are vast.

Spanning a period from 1906 to the present day, Dying with Dignity: A Legal Approach to Assisted Death examines how and why pleas for legalization of “euthanasia” made at the beginning of the 20th century were transmuted into the physician-assisted suicide laws in existence today, in the United States as well as around the world. After an introductory section that discusses the phenomenon of “medicalization” of death, author Giza Lopes, PhD, covers the history of the legal development of “aid-in-dying” in the United States, focusing on case studies from the late 1900s to today, then addresses assisted death in select European nations. The concluding section discusses what the past legal developments and decisions could portend for the future of assisted death.


  • Provides comprehensive, well-researched, and accessible information on a timely and controversial topic
  • Presents a socio-legal explanation rather than a simple description of the emergence and evolution of the legal concepts involved with medically assisted death
  • Offers invaluable historical perspective for academics in the fields of sociology, criminal justice, law, and related disciplines as well as practitioners who deal with end-of-life decision-making and lay readers
Giza Lopes, PhD, is a postdoctoral associate at the School of Criminal Justice, University at Albany, NY. She has published peer-reviewed articles as well as book chapters and encyclopedia entries in diverse topics of crime and justice. Fluent in several languages, Lopes holds a doctorate in criminal justice and advanced degrees in linguistics and discourse analysis from the Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil.
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