This National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine sponsored a workshop last week that was intended to explore the evidence base and research gaps relating to the implementation of the clinical practice of allowing terminally ill patients to access life-ending medications with the aid of a physician. The workshop examined what is known, and unknown, about how physician-assisted death is practiced and accessed in the United States; it was not to be a focus of the workshop to discuss at length the moral or ethical arguments for or against the practice of physician-assisted death. It was billed as a neutral space to facilitate dialogue in order to help inform ongoing discussions between patients, their providers, and other health care stakeholders. What follows is a report on that workshop.
In 2017, the District of Columbia (DC) became the seventh jurisdiction in the United States to legalize medical aid in dying, which gives terminally ill patients the option of how and when they die. The new DC statute is nearly identical to earlier enacted medical aid in dying statutes in California, Colorado, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington State. Only Montana legalized medical aid in dying through a court decision, but subsequently, proponents of the act have failed in every attempt to legalize medical aid in dying through constitutional or statutory litigation.
[NOTE: Because of a problem with a component of the website, I am re-publishing this post today. A new post will appear in the in-boxes of subscribers Monday. I had hoped we would get some comments or feedback about this post.]
In Part 1, I discussed the state of death with dignity (DWD) laws in the United States and suggested eliminating the “six months to live” criterion. Here in Part 2, I discuss the Canadian example, other suggestions that may ease some restrictions of death with dignity acts (DWDAs), and add an important precaution that should help protect vulnerable people and provide better medical services.
This week’s post is a checklist of 21 major end-of-life decisions by John Abraham, author of “How To Get The Death You Want — A Practical and Moral Guide” (2017, Upper Access Press) and on Amazon
Web site: www.DeathAndDyingHelp.com
Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act (DWDA), implemented in 1998, was a monumental step forward in pursuing the primary goal of permitting those suffering from illness or disease to hasten their own death. But its advocates realized that, out of political necessity, it was not a universally applicable law, covering everyone in need. And the DWDA did not assure that all people have excellent medical care to meet their needs, though Oregon did dramatically improve palliative care in the state, diminishing the need for many people to make use of the DWDA.
Most objectors to the right to die stand on religious grounds, claiming that God gave life and only God can take life away. Also, any deliberate ending of life is breaking the sixth commandment and therefore a mortal sin. Life is sacred and must be preserved at all costs, only God can decide when and how our lives will end, and Christians are supposed to suffer because it allows them to empathize with Jesus’ suffering.
This interpretation of the sixth commandment is, in fact, wrong.
Whenever I read the arguments of opponents of Medical Aid In Dying (MAID), one that constantly crops up is a religious appeal to how precious life is. For example, “Every day is a gift from God, and you can’t ever let that go.” That is a faith statement. I may agree with it or I may not. It may rise out of the writer’s religious faith, but that doesn’t mean it applies to mine. And religious faith should never be a basis for making public policy. Otherwise, we will have one person’s religion controlling all others – something our founders absolutely opposed.
Final Exit Network announces Dying in the Americas 2018, a conference devoted to re-imagining the future of dying with the objective of a peaceful death for everyone. The conference will take place March 21 to March 25, 2018, in the peaceful setting of the Hilton Lake Las Vegas Resort & Spa in Henderson, Nevada, in the foothills outside Las Vegas. The program is open to academics, health care professionals, physicians, nurses, geriatric social workers, Thanatologists, hospice and nursing facility personnel, palliative care specialists, insurance and government professionals, and those interested in improving the quality of the dying experience for both the patient and family.
To close out this year, FEN member Linda Wilshusen has allowed us to post some thoughts she first wrote three years ago for her own blog – the everyday primate – but are as timely now as when written. The Good Death Society Blog will take off for three weeks and return with new posts on January 8, 2018.
Originally posted at “the everyday primate”
You’re probably rolling your eyes at this apparent not-joy-t0-the-world holiday season post. But hang in here with me – this topic could fuel unusual & maybe even helpful family dinner conversations. Still skeptical? Well, just remind yourself that there’s nothing more important to religious holidays than life & death.
The American Psychological Association (APA) has prepared and published an “End-of-Life Care Fact Sheet,” making it available as an open source document. It tries to answer the question – What are older adults’ mental health needs near the end of life?
The document, prepared by Sharon Valente, RN, PhD, FAAN, in collaboration with the other members of the APA Ad Hoc Committee on End-of-Life Issues, addresses many issues of concern to FEN members and provides references for the information and opinions it offers.
While the APA does not take a position on assisted dying, such as the laws that allow a physician to provide a lethal prescription to a terminally ill patient, as can be done in Oregon, Washington, Vermont, California, Colorado, and the District of Columbia (and is permitted in Montana by court decision), it does recognize the many perspectives on the issue of hastened death or rational suicide that exist in the US population.