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Harvard Medical School

Marcia Angell: Changing the debate on assisted dying

When my husband was diagnosed with metastatic cancer in February, he asked physicians whether they would provide him the means to end his life quickly if he chose. They either evaded the question or said they were unable to comply. They then hastened to assure him that he would not suffer. But that was not his question. My husband, Arnold S. Relman, was a distinguished physician who had been chairman of the department of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and editor in chief of the New England Journal of Medicine; he knew very well what lay ahead of him. His concern was not so much with suffering as with having his mind affected by the drugs he would need to prevent suffering. He...