"Mercy killing", "assisting a suicide", "planning your own death" and "euthanasia" are once again high-profile issues. Recent popular referendums have sought to legalise doctor-assisted suicide, while best-selling books have been published about how to kill yourself. In short, Americans are searching for more control over their own mortality. "Hemlock's Cup" is the first history of the active euthanasia movement in America, as represented by its most visible proponent, the Hemlock Society. Donald W. Cox traces the growth of the society from its beginnings as a three-person cause to its current world-wide fame.The work of Derek Humphrey, the society's founder, is reviewed and the publicity surrounding Dr Jack Kevorkian and his controversial "suicide machine" is discussed. Cox also addresses the Washington and California initiatives to legalise doctor-assisted suicide and the ethical questions they pose. He reflects on the impact of the Quinlan and Cruzan cases to establish the "right to die" for all Americans and he explores the reasons for the delays in enacting living-will laws in various states.
In addition, Cox examines the significant connections among AIDS, abortion, and assisted suicide.