BY Anna Hiatt
Originally published January 6, 2016
The idea that death should be merciful is not new. When a person is gravely wounded or terminally ill, when death is inevitable, and the suffering is so great that living no longer brings any joy to the person, it is understandable that he or she may wish to die. In “Two Pioneers of Euthanasia Around 1800,” Michael Stolberg cites accounts of people pulling on the legs of those who had been hanged, but had not yet died, to hasten their deaths. He mentions also Apologie, the autobiography of a French surgeon named Ambroise Paré who happened upon three gravely wounded soldiers. An uninjured soldier asked the surgeon if they would live, to which he responded they would not. The uninjured soldier proceeded to slit their throats.
The invention and widespread use of morphine in the 19th century to treat, and then to kill, pain led to the belief that a less painful dying process was possible, Giza Lopes writes in her book Dying With Dignity: A Legal Approach to Assisted Death.
The article is here.