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Death in the modern age


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Contributor(s): Professor Emily Jackson

Released on 9 January 2009.

At a time when modern medicine can prolong life, but also the dying process, Professor Emily Jackson, professor of law at LSE, uses the first video in the Big Ideas series to discuss the meaning of death and the moral and legal questions raised by euthanasia. She says that planning and taking personal responsibility for how life ends will become as usual as arranging a pension or a will. Professor Jackson argues for the need for a carefully thought out euthanasia law which provides adequate protection for patients. She says: 'While the government and judiciary prevaricate, those seeking control over the manner in which they end their lives are increasingly finding the means to do so outside the reach, and the protection, of British law.' Several high profile cases have recently focused attention on Dignitas, a Swiss facility which offers assisted suicide for a fee. 'We are exporting our assisted dying cases to Switzerland,' says Professor Jackson. She describes this situation as 'regrettable' - not least because the necessity to be fit enough to travel abroad may result in people choosing to end their lives earlier than they might have wished.

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