Bioethics Blogs

“Death Over Dinner”

My local newspaper carried this Page 1 story this morning:  there is a national campaign encouraging people to discuss end of life matters with their loved ones by holding a Death Over Dinner gathering between now and January 7. 

Well.  Happy New Year.

The content sounds on-target: discuss how one wants to live the end of one’s life—how does one feel about aggressive treatment, elder care facilities, and so on.  The leaders of the campaign say this is about how to live life well to the end.  “We’re not death panels,” they say.  Specifically, they claim they are NOT promoting physician-assisted suicide (PAS).  Or so says the newspaper article.

Follow the link and you’ll learn this is an effort of a group called The Conversation Project, co-founded by the columnist Ellen Goodman.  Advisors include Drs. Donald Berwick, former head of CMS, and Atul Gwande, author of Being Mortal, as well as a number of palliative care specialists.  There’s a link to a “starter kit” that is really a guide to clarifying one’s wishes, and how to talk about and put together an advance directive.  It looks well-designed and well-worded.  It’s not an advance directive per se.  It doesn’t mention PAS.  Oh—there’s an associated cookbook with recipes you might want to try.

Photos of the organizers and advisors are linked to brief individual stories of theirs describing their desire to help people with end of life decisions.  I read a few of these and they are well-said, it seems to me.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.