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"If you can keep calm when everyone around you is losing it, then you don't really understand the situation." So goes the modem variation on the old saying, but the dominant vocabulary in our contemporary public discussions about physician-assisted suicide ignores this wisdom. In litigative or academic forums, the talk tends to focus on abstract principles and hypothetical cases. It is the abstractions and hypotheticals that obscure the complexity, the grittiness, and the disturbing reality of this subject. To remain coolly rational about physician-assisted suicide is, in a fundamental sense, to misunderstand all that is truly at stake.
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