A review of The Edge of Life: Dying, Death and Euthanasia. By John Ling.

Day One Publications, 2002.

Although written for the general audience, this is a very good look at the difficult subject of euthanasia. Writing from a decidedly Christian perspective, the author, an English lecturer in bioethics, makes a clear case for why euthanasia must never be legalized, nor embraced by the medical community.

First, informative chapters look at the biblical understanding of suffering, pain, life and death. Then incisive chapters are devoted to the various ethical aspects of the euthanasia debate. He provides an historical overview of the situation, a look at terminology and definitions, many recent medical cases, and lessons from the UK and abroad.

He also looks at related topics such as infanticide, suicide and eugenics. There are also quite helpful chapters on the so-called persistent vegetative state, living wills and advanced directives, and the situation in the Netherlands.

He also discusses the hospice movement and palliative care, and provides useful information on how we can combat the culture of death.

All in all this is a very comprehensive and learned treatment of the subject. The author has read widely on the subject, and offers a very intelligent yet practical overview of this contentious bioethical issue. And it nicely brings together biblical concerns with recent medical, social and ethical approaches to the subject.

While a number of good books exist which take on the pro-euthanasia lobby and its rhetoric, if you had to choose just one, this would be a very good volume to start with.

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