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Posted on May 15, 2019 at 8:26 AM

Dax Cowart, the patient in one of the most famous early cases in bioethics, has died.

William Winslade offers an admirable tribute. From the opening paragraph: “Dax Cowart, patients’ rights advocate and lawyer, died of cancer on April 28, 2019. . . . He was widely known for his attempts to refuse treatment for severe burns caused by a propane gas explosion and fire . . . .”

“Physicians . . . disregarded his pleas on the grounds that he was incompetent.  But Dax argued passionately that he had a right to decide whether or not to undergo the extremely painful burn treatments.  The 1974 documentary Please Let Me Die showed that Dax, even though heavily medicated, could make a calm and rational argument for respect for his personal autonomy and his right to make his own treatment decisions.”

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