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A book by Glanville Williams, The Sanctity of Life and the Criminal Law,1 once again brought to the fore the controversial topic of euthanasia, more popularly known as 'mercy-killing'. In keep_ ing with the trend of the e.uthanasia movement over the past generation, Williams concentrates his efforts for reform on the voluntary type of euthanasia, for example the cancer victim begging for death, as opposed to the involuntary variety -- that is, the case of the congenital idiot, the permanently insane, or the senile

When a legal scholar of Williams's stature joins the ranks of such formidable law thinkers as America's Herbert Wechsler and the late Jerome Michael, and England's Hermann Mannheim in approving voluntary euthanasia at least in certain circumstances, a major exploration of the bases for the euthanasia prohibition seems in order. This need is underscored by the fact that Williams's book arrived on the scene soon after the stir caused by the plea for voluntary euthanasia contained in a book by a brilliant American Anglican clergyman.


Reproduced with permission.