Bioethics Blogs

Denying Ourselves the Right to Make Rational Choices about Death

Former Congressman Barney Frank offers his support for Medicare coverage of advance care planning.  

He urges changing a set of policies that not only do not advance our welfare, but also diminish it: denying ourselves the right to make rational choices about death.

Frank observes that “while there is no clear legal bar to a spouse, child or parent complying with the expressed desire of a brain-dead patient not to be kept breathing artificially, there is an aura of discouragement” from Shiavo and related arguments “that the law should prohibit any action that ended any vestige of life, even where the individual involved had expressed that preference,” 

“First, with the dropping of the end-of-life counseling provision from the health care bill, fewer people are aware of the availability – and to most, I believe the desirability – of creating an advance directive with their end-of-life wishes clearly spelled out.”

“Second, especially in the absence of an advance directive (but in some cases, even where there is one), some medical providers have varying degrees of reluctance to act.”

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.