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JSTOR Presents: The Euthanasia Movement: A History & Discussion by Anna Hiatt
Morbid Anatomy Museum
Brooklyn, NY
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JSTOR Presents: The Euthanasia Movement: A History & Discussion by Anna Hiatt
Date: Thursday, May 12th
Time: 7pm
Admission: $8
Location: Morbid Anatomy Museum, 424 Third Avenue, 11215 Brooklyn NY

The idea that death should be merciful is not new. When a person is gravely wounded or terminally ill, when death is inevitable, and the suffering is so great that living no longer brings any joy to the person, it is understandable that he or she may wish to die. InTwo Pioneers of Euthanasia Around 1800, Michael Stolberg citesaccounts of people pulling on the legs of those who had been hanged, but had not yet died, to hasten their deaths. He mentions alsoApologie, the autobiography of a French surgeon named Ambroise Paré who happened
upon three gravely wounded soldiers. An uninjured soldier asked the surgeon if they would live, to which he responded they would not. The uninjured soldier proceeded to slit their throats.

The invention and widespread use of morphine in the 19th century to treat, and then to kill, pain led to the belief that a less painful dying process was possible, Giza Lopes writes in her book Dying With Dignity: A Legal Approach to Assisted Death. In the mid-19th century, surgeons began using chloroform, which had fewer negative side effects than morphine, and which knocked people unconscious. In 1885, the American Medical Association officially opposed
voluntary euthanasia. Though some doctors believed in the redemptive nature of suffering, the opposition was not overwhelming enough to stop the movement.

The ability to relieve pain experienced as the result of surgical procedures, childbirth, or mere living, logically led to conversations about death and dying. Medications could alleviate end-of-life suffering and expedite death.

Anna Hiatt is a freelance journalist working based in New York City, working with words, audio, and imagesboth moving and still. She's a freelance producer for WNYC Radio, and the digital journalist for a documentary project called the "Truth About Trees." Her work has appeared inAl Jazeera America,The Washington Post,The New Republic, andVice, among others.


Morbid Anatomy Museum (View)
424 A Third Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11215
United States




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