Bioethics Blogs

Special Dispute Resolution Mechanisms for Religiously Motivated Demands for Medical Treatment

This summer, researchers reported that U.S. physicians appear more willing to accommodate requests to continue life-sustaining treatment when those requests are based on particular religious communities or traditions, but not when based on expectations of divine healing. 

(“Physicians’ Opinions About Accommodating Religiously Based Requests for Continued Life-Sustaining Treatment,” J Pain Symptom Manage. 2016 Jun;51(6):971-8)

In a brief response I make several legal points.  But I also contend that the authors’ survey findings suggest that end-of-life treatment conflicts might be resolved differently when the surrogate’s request is based on the teachings of a religious community. 

In other words, dispute resolution pathways might be designed one way when the treatment request is based on misunderstanding, mistrust, or a hope for miracles. But they might be designed another way when the request is based on religion.

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.