Assisted suicide is the termination of life by a person according to the desires of the person who is dying. This other person may or may not be the physician of the person in question, as a frequent reason this act is committed is terminal illness such as advanced cancer. Assisted suicide entered into popular culture due to Dr. Jack Kevorkian.

As the population gets older, no doubt this issue will be visited repeatedly, as the most common practitioners of assisted suicide are past middle age, and are frequently senior citizens. Proponents of the practice say that it allows people to die with dignity, controlling the circumstances of their own deaths. Opponents counter that it is ethically wrong for doctors, who have taken the Hippocratic Oath to "first, do no harm", to take a life intentionally. Also, the practice violates various religious edicts. Finally, there is the potential for masking homicides if juries have to consider whether or not the decedent really wanted to die when someone is on trial for murder.

There is an excellent section on Dr. Kevorkian and his patients (or victims, depending on how you look at it) on the Detroit Free Press website at http://www.freep.com/suicide/index1.htm.

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