Last Wish

Last Wish

Last Wish

Last Wish

Synopsis

Betty Rollin's riveting account of her struggle to come to terms with her mother's last wish is more than a thoughtful examination of the ethical, spiritual, and technical aspects of assisted suicide. It is also a celebration of her imperfect but loving family, a passionate testament to her mother's character and courage, and a compelling argument for the right of the terminally ill to a humane and dignified death.

First published a decade ago to great controversy and acclaim, Last Wish will have new relevance to a new generation of people concerned about their own freedom of choice at life's end and those facing responsibility for aging or ill friends or relatives. The book is also essential, provocative reading for physicians, policymakers, spiritual leaders, and citizens now debating the legal status of physician-aid-in-dying across the United States. The PublicAffairs edition includes a new foreword, questions for thought and discussion, and a helpful resource guide.

Excerpt

I never set out to write a book about an issue. I wanted to write what struck me as a powerful story about a woman who happened to be my mother. To this day, I feel in awe of what she did and how she did it. There is inherent drama in any death, but a chosen death—this kind of chosen death, not the result of depression or misery, but of reason and pluck—had a kind of majesty about it. My mother was, in many ways, an ordinary, feet-on-the‐ ground woman. But at her death she soared. Mostly, I wrote the book because I was proud of her.

And I suppose I had some sense of mission about it. I knew— as did my mother—that she could not be the only terminally ill person who wanted out of life and who couldn't get there without help. "What do people do who don't have children?" she asked me, not idly, once she knew we would help her to die. As alone as we felt with our struggle, we knew we were not alone. But little did we know how many people, how many families were going through the same agony—enough to start a movement. Because the right-to-die movement grew—and has grown—not from intellectual theory, but from need, from fear, and from the heart.

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