Tag: end of life

Blog Posts (114)

November 23, 2016

Christian ethics and the powerless

The recent political campaign and election week have had many of us thinking about politics and government. For those of us who look at bioethics from a biblical perspective we have had to think about how our perspective on moral issues affects public policy and how we as a people govern ourselves. What do we do when no one seems to support a public policy... // Read More »
November 11, 2016

So…

Colorado didn’t take my advice.  On Tuesday, voters there approved doctor-assisted suicide by a 2-to-1 margin—65% to 35%. Ouch. This is looking like the next social march that may not be stoppable legislatively.  That doesn’t mean people who agree with me on this matter shouldn’t try, but it does seem to mean that we need to prepare for quiet resistance:  really caring for dying people,... // Read More »
November 4, 2016

Dear Colorado: No on 106

The next battle in the war on physician-assisted suicide is up in Colorado on Election Day, next Tuesday.  Voters there will vote on Proposition 106, the Colorado “End of Life Options Act,” which would provide access to medical aid in dying medication.  The link takes one to the text of the proposed law, including revisions; apparently it was previously referred to as “Initiative 145.”  It... // Read More »
October 24, 2016

Race & Physician Assisted Suicide

Is physician-assisted suicide only for white people? That is a question that came to mind when reading a recent Washington Post article by Fenit Nirappil that reports on the proposed “Right to Die” law in Washington, D.C.  The law is drawing opposition from members of the African American community. The Post article quotes a Georgetown Law School professor, Patricia King, who states, “Historically, African Americans have not... // Read More »
October 12, 2016

A Canadian physician’s defense of rights of conscience

A friend who teaches at the University of Toronto recently made me aware of what Ewan Goligher has written about rights of conscience in the context of the legalization of physician assisted death in Canada and the push by many there to require physicians provide effective referral for physician assisted death. Dr. Goligher is an academic physician who specializes in internal medicine and intensive care... // Read More »
October 10, 2016

Christianity and Physician-Assisted Suicide (2)

October 10, 2016 A few blogs ago, I discussed a Time op-ed that spoke of a Christian perspective to physician assisted suicide. Understanding that Christian is a hopelessly ambiguous term, I wanted to see if there was anything noticeably Christian about the op-ed. My reflection at the time was that any advocate of PAS – Christian, religious, spiritual, or secular—could have written the piece. The... // Read More »
September 28, 2016

The cost-effectiveness of prenatal screening for Down syndrome

Because the British National Health Service is a governmental single-payer system decisions about what is covered in that system involve public discussion. That leads to public discussion of ethical issues that frequently manage to avoid the public eye in the US. A recent article in the Daily Mail talks about an issue that is being debated by the British NHS. They are currently deciding whether... // Read More »
September 16, 2016

Observations from a recent discussion of doctor-assisted suicide

Early this past June, the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) included an ethics session featuring a point-counterpoint discussion, with audience Q+A, of “physician aid in dying,” or, as I think more accurate, “physician-assisted suicide (PAS).”  Discussants were Dr. Timothy Quill, a palliative care specialist who is a past plaintiff in court cases seeking legal approval of PAS, and Dr. Daniel... // Read More »
September 7, 2016

Positive rights and the tyranny of political power

Thanks go to Jon Holmlund for making us aware of the “Consensus Statement on Conscientious Objection in Healthcare” written by Julian Savulescu and a like-minded group of philosophers and ethicists. The statement, which represents one extreme in the discussion of rights of conscience and not a consensus of all those involved in this issue, seeks to transform negative rights into positive rights. That is, they... // Read More »
September 2, 2016

Evil on its Face

In June of this year, a group of ethicists—should I say that I use that term loosely?—issued a “consensus statement” to guide legislation and institutional policy regarding conscientious objection in medicine.  Conscientious objection, they explained, “is the refusal to provide a certain medical service, for example an abortion or medical assistance in dying, because it conflicts with the practitioner’s moral views.”  Their words, not mine.... // Read More »

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Published Articles (3)

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 11 Issue 7 - Jul 2011

A Philosophical Obituary: Dr. Jack Kevorkian Dead at 83 Leaving End of Life Debate in the US Forever Changed

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 11 Issue 2 - Feb 2011

Book Review of D. Micah Hester, End of Life Care and Pragmatic Decision Making

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 7 Issue 10 - Oct 2007

"Show Me" Bioethics and Politics

News (46)

October 23, 2012 6:01 pm

Watch your Words! The Challenges of Law Around the End of Life (Oxford Uinversity Blog)

[I]n South Australia last week, a bill has been proposed to clarify the legal status of advance directives. One very small part of that bill involves a modification to an older palliative care act. The modification corrects an ambiguity in wording in the earlier act. The ambiguity is subtle. However, that choice of words has had major consequences for seriously ill children and adults in South Australia and for health practitioners. It is a salutary reminder of how hard it is to enact good laws in the area of end of life, and how easily such laws can make things worse rather than better.

September 21, 2012 8:12 pm

After Death, Helping to Prolong Life (The New Tork Times)

EDINA, Minn. — Just down the hallway, in Room 356, Curtis Kelly’s body lay covered to the chest by a white blanket, his torso rising and falling with the help of a ventilator. A neurologist at Fairview Southdale Hospital had declared him brain-dead nearly six hours earlier.  Mr. Kelly’s far-flung family — a son, three siblings, a sister-in-law, his girlfriend and the daughter of a former girlfriend — had gathered in a narrow conference room in the intensive care unit so that John P. LeMay could ask permission to recover his tissue and organs.

 

August 14, 2012 7:47 pm

End-of-Life Care for Kids Raises Ethics Issues (MedPage Today)

Healthcare providers should have rapid access to legal remedies for end-of-life disputes involving children whose parents resist withdrawal of aggressive therapy on the basis of religious beliefs, authors of a review concluded.  Over a 3-year period, 17 of 203 cases could not be resolved after lengthy discussions with parents. Subsequently, most of the cases were resolved, but five remained undecided, each because of the parents’ belief in a miracle for their children, according to an article published online in the Journal of Medical Ethics.

August 14, 2012 7:45 pm

Deeply Religious Parents Often Reluctant to Cease Medical Care (ABC News)

Arthur Caplan, the head of the division of medical ethics at NYU Langone Medical Center, recalls a case of a man who had beaten his six-month-old child to death. It was a horror the mother simply could not accept.  A deeply religious woman, she pushed the doctors to do more, telling them that God would intervene and allow her daughter to make a miraculous recovery. For several hours there was a tense standoff between caregivers and parent.

August 7, 2012 9:35 pm

At the End of Life, Talk Helps Bridge a Racial Divide (The New York Times)

Living or dying is not at issue. The question this family confronts is how the patient will die: a little sooner, with adequate morphine, surrounded by loved ones in the hospice unit, or a little later, in a never dark or quiet patch of the I.C.U., ribs broken by failed, if well-intentioned, CPR.  Add to this the following: The patient and family are black. And while race should not be relevant at this moment, research tells us otherwise.

July 27, 2012 5:57 pm

Are Doctors More Likely to Refuse CPR? (The Atlantic)

Are doctors more likely to refuse revival in the event of cardiac arrest? In the Hopkins study, 90 percent of doctors said they’d rather die by cardiac arrest than be resuscitated. Only a quarter of the public feels the same way.  Do doctors know something we don’t about the miracles of CPR? In one Japanese study of 95,000 CPR cases, just eight percent of patients survived for longer than a month after being revived.

July 26, 2012 4:25 pm

King: U.S. lifestyles to blame for high health costs (Houston Chronicle)

Another challenge for the U.S. with respect to overall health care costs is our cultural approach to end of life care. Medicare now estimates that 27 percent of its budget goes for care provided in the last year of life, and a big chunk of that is spent in the last few weeks of a person’s life. The Lien Foundation did a study on end of life care in 40 developed countries. While the U.S. ranked high on the availability and quality of end-of-life care, its cost of care was one of the highest.

July 11, 2012 6:41 pm

Legal Euthanasia Didn’t Raise Death Rate, Researchers Say (Bussinessweek)

“Countries differ greatly in demography, culture and organization of medical care,” Lo, who is also director of the medical ethics program at the University of California, San Francisco, wrote in a comment accompanying the study. More in- depth information is needed to better understand how patients and physicians reach their decisions, he said.

July 10, 2012 4:23 pm

Doctor accused of ending patients' lives prematurely (ABC Online)

There are calls for a Queensland doctor to be stripped of his right to practice medicine and investigated over allegations he prematurely ended the lives of patients under his care.  Former Queensland Medical Board investigator Jo Barber says the doctor’s actions are so dangerous he could have been charged with manslaughter or murder.  Ms Barber says there are a number of deaths linked to the doctor, who, after fronting the state’s medical board, was allowed to continue practising as long as he was not working in intensive care.

July 9, 2012 9:12 pm

Ensuring a good death: a public health priority (Oxford University Press Blog)

Protecting the health and wellbeing of the population directly or indirectly involved with death and dying is a huge public health challenge. Currently, high quality end of life care is not yet available in most parts of the world, and in those countries where it is available it is not accessible or not initiated timely for all in need, independent of their disease, age, gender, socioeconomic, or ethnic background. Largely as a result of that, a large majority receives overly aggressive treatment until death or shortly before death, has undertreated psychological and physical symptoms at the end of life, and is not able to die in a place or manner that accords with their personal preferences.

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