Tuesday, June 26, 2018
Two more items to add to your resources and reading on end of life in the U.S.
First: The New York Times ran an op-ed earlier in the month, Let Dying People End Their Suffering.Written by Diane Rehm, the focus of this piece is on California's aid-in-dying law. She writes about a friend with terminal cancer who expressed relief about the law that allowed her to seek aid-in-dying. As readers of this blog know, the law was overturned, so Ms. Rehm writes about the turmoil the decision has caused for those with terminal illnesses and their families. She writes about her husband, in Maryland, without the option of aid-in-dying, who instead opted for voluntarily refusing food and fluids.
Ms. Rehm makes a heartfelt argument in support of the aid-in-dying law, concluding her article this way
Let me be clear: I understand that many people believe that only God should determine the time of their death, and I support them 100 percent. Others want every additional minute of life that medical science can give them, and I support those people 100 percent. But the end of life is an extremely personal experience. If, when my time comes, I see only unbearable suffering ahead of me, then I want my preference to have access to medical aid in dying to be supported 100 percent, as well.
As Archbishop Desmond Tutu has written, “Regardless of what you might choose for yourself, why should you deny others the right to make this choice?”
Back in May, the president of the Hastings Center wrote a piece, Hastings Center President Calls for “Moral Leadership” to Improve End-of-Life Care.
The president made two lectures, "the 23rd annual Joseph N. Muschel Medical House Staff Award Lecture at Medicine Grand Rounds at Columbia University on May 16 and the Annual Wilhelm S. Albrink Lecture in Bioethics at West Virginia University on May 18... [where she] called on clinicians, hospital leaders, and bioethicists to broaden the usual ethical framework beyond “thin” notions of autonomy to a more robust relational ethics, that would build new systems, better capable of ensuring that frail older Americans and their caregivers get the support they need."
In her talk, when she turned to the topic of end of life "and population aging, she told the audiences: 'Redesigning our systems of health care delivery is one of the most important challenges of our time and will take significant moral leadership. But even that is not enough: beyond changes within care delivery settings, we also need to redesign our communities – so that housing, transportation and social supports are there for the increasing number of Americans living longer with frailty and dementia.'"
I'm sure these two pieces will not be the last on end of life care, so, stay tuned.