Tag: end of life

Blog Posts (94)

April 25, 2016

A brief thought on rising suicide rates

A recent article in The Washington Post describes a very disturbing trend: “The U.S. suicide rate has increased sharply since the turn of the century, led by an even greater rise among middle-aged white people, particularly, women, according to federal data released Friday [April 22]” The article offers some suggestions as to why things have been so grim: last decade’s severe recession, drug addiction, social isolation,... // Read More »
April 15, 2016

Doctor-Assisted Suicide in Canada: the Next Step

The general press is reporting that the Liberal majority in Canada has drafted proposed legislation to establish the conditions under which physician-assisted suicide (PAS) would be legal.  Per the Canadian Supreme Court’s order last year that PAS is allowed in Canada, the Parliament has until June 6 to pass it, or the Court’s prior order would come into force.  This would effectively leave judgments of... // Read More »
April 8, 2016

“The Enormity of the Moral Mission of Medicine”

As I write, Paul Kalanithi’s book When Breath Becomes Air sits atop the New York Times Bestseller List. I highly recommend it. It is beautiful. This book was written by a dying man. All books are, I suppose, but this author knew with more certainty than most that his time was short. Paul Kalanithi was finishing a grueling neurosurgery residency and on the cusp of... // Read More »
April 1, 2016

Ethics & Society Newsfeed: April 1, 2016

Heroin Epidemic Is Yielding to a Deadlier Cousin: Fentanyl Cheaper and far more potent, the synthetic painkiller is becoming the drug of choice for some addicts — and is killing them more quickly. Who’s “They?” We are witnessing a great … Continue reading
March 11, 2016

Hospice in Medicare: a Victim of Success?

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal (subscription required) reports that Medicare is paying more than expected for hospice care.  The apparent reason:  hospice is being provided to people who are not close to death. The initial idea of hospice was to provide palliative care for people with 6 months or less to live.  Leave aside, for the moment, that making such a prognosis... // Read More »
February 22, 2016

How to Make People Think Robots and Corpses Have Feelings

The right to die has played a critical role in the development of the doctor/patient relationship. It was families clamoring for the right to allow their loved ones to die who forced the world to recognize that physicians’ medical decisions … Continue reading

The post How to Make People Think Robots and Corpses Have Feelings appeared first on PeterUbel.com.

January 21, 2016

Can there be a “Right to Die?”

I generally give 5 reasons for opposing physician-assisted suicide (PAS), which is commonly recommended by its advocates by invoking the notion of a “right to die”:  it destroys the soul of medicine as the profession dedicated to healing; it deflects attention from palliative care; it rests on a very slippery slope; a right to die implies a reciprocal duty to kill; and the notion of... // Read More »
January 19, 2016

New guidelines for euthanasia in the Netherlands

As I was doing some research on the issue of physician assisted suicide and patient requests for death, I came across a news headline titled “Euthanasia Rules Relaxed for People with Serious Dementia.” Intrigued, I followed the link to learn that the Netherlands are now allowing for aid in dying to occur when severely demented patients have a written euthanasia request. From my understanding, this... // Read More »
January 7, 2016

A Book for Anyone Interested in Bioethics

Being Human: Core Readings in the Humanities, edited by Leon Kass, is one book worth a spot on the shelf of anyone interested in bioethics or concerns about human dignity.  A series of excerpts from things that we read—or should have read—in high school or college, it was selected by the members of President George W. Bush’s President’s Council on Bioethics in 2003.  The readings... // Read More »
December 24, 2015

A Tale of Two Friends

I am thinking of two friends from church with advanced cancer, both men about my age, 60-ish. One has a high-grade brain tumor, persistent after standard therapy and more than one experimental new treatment.  He’s a fighter, looking for something new to try.  He’s an ex-Marine, famously fit at baseline, willing and able to tolerate some toxicity.  He also tells me that he is trusting... // Read More »