Medicine: The Doctor Decided on Death

A candid tale of mercy killing inflames the profession

The patient's name was Debbie, and she was dying of ovarian cancer. After two sleepless days, she was struggling to breathe, vomiting repeatedly from a drug meant to sedate her. The resident physician on call was roused from sleep and summoned to her bedside in the night. The doctor had never seen the emaciated, dark-haired figure before. "It was a gallows scene, a cruel mockery of her youth and unfulfilled potential," the doctor wrote later. "Her only words to me were, 'Let's get this over with.' " The resident took her exhausted plea literally and instructed a nurse to prepare an...

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