Leven Abstract

Medical Aid in Dying Should be a Last Resort Option for the Dying

Palliative care and hospice should be standards of care for seriously ill and dying patients. Most, but not all, suffering can be adequately addressed with the skillful addition of palliative measures to a patient’s treatment plan. For the small number of those dying patients whose suffering is not adequately addressed, medical aid in dying should be an available option. It is the process by which an adult, mentally competent, terminally ill patient, who doctors determine is likely to die within six months, self-consumes prescribed medicines, to end suffering and achieve a peaceful death.

The primary goal of this presentation is to educate attendees about the practice of medical aid in dying and why it should be legal as a last resort option for mentally competent, adult, dying patients.

Attendees will learn that:

Medical aid in dying should be distinguished from assisted suicide;

Hastening death by medical aid in dying is more ethically similar than it is different in comparison to other legal means of hastening death, including the withholding or withdrawal of life sustaining treatment, voluntarily stopping eating and drinking, or palliative sedation to unconsciousness;

Medical aid in dying laws have worked as intended as an ethical practice in US states where it has been legalized;

Arguments in opposition to medical aid in dying do not have merit and potential problems about medical aid in dying have not emerged in states where it is legal;

There is growing support for medical aid in dying and diminishing opposition from the medical profession.

Faculty:

David Leven, J.D.Executive Director Emeritus, End of Life Choices New York

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