Tag: dying patients

Bioethics Blogs

Aid in Dying Court Appeal Comes to New York Court of Appeals May 30; Strong, Diverse and Growing Support in Amicus Briefs

The right of terminally ill, mentally competent adults to achieve a more peaceful death is at stake in Myers v. Schneiderman, now before the New York Court of Appeals, NY’s highest state court.  Oral arguments will be held in Albany on May 30.


The appeal seeks to reverse lower court decisions that dismissed the case prior to trial.  The case seeks to establish the right of terminally ill patients to receive a prescription for medication which they can self ingest to achieve a peaceful death if confronted by suffering they find unbearable.


Wide support for the plaintiffs is demonstrated by a multitude of amicus briefs submitted to the court by diverse parties representing patients and their loved ones, medical, religious and civil liberties organizations as well as national legal associations.  Two of these organizations are supporting the legalization of aid in dying as an amicus for the first time.


Kathryn Tucker, Executive Director of End of Life Liberty Project, and co-counsel in the case, said, “We are very pleased to see a large number of important voices joining us in seeking reversal of the lower court dismissal of the case. It is especially interesting to note the appearance of new voices not previously involved in aid in dying cases.”


Ms. Tucker noted, “Two new ‘friends’ of end of life liberty are stepping forward in Myers. For the first time in a case seeking to establish access to aid in dying, a state chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) is participating as an amicus in support of patients and physicians.

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.

Bioethics Blogs

Aid in Dying Court Appeal Comes to New York Court of Appeals May 30; Strong, Diverse and Growing Support in Amicus Briefs

The right of terminally ill, mentally competent adults to achieve a more peaceful death is at stake in Myers v. Schneiderman, now before the New York Court of Appeals, NY’s highest state court.  Oral arguments will be held in Albany on May 30.


The appeal seeks to reverse lower court decisions that dismissed the case prior to trial.  The case seeks to establish the right of terminally ill patients to receive a prescription for medication which they can self ingest to achieve a peaceful death if confronted by suffering they find unbearable.


Wide support for the plaintiffs is demonstrated by a multitude of amicus briefs submitted to the court by diverse parties representing patients and their loved ones, medical, religious and civil liberties organizations as well as national legal associations.  Two of these organizations are supporting the legalization of aid in dying as an amicus for the first time.


Kathryn Tucker, Executive Director of End of Life Liberty Project, and co-counsel in the case, said, “We are very pleased to see a large number of important voices joining us in seeking reversal of the lower court dismissal of the case. It is especially interesting to note the appearance of new voices not previously involved in aid in dying cases.”


Ms. Tucker noted, “Two new ‘friends’ of end of life liberty are stepping forward in Myers. For the first time in a case seeking to establish access to aid in dying, a state chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) is participating as an amicus in support of patients and physicians.

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.

Bioethics News

‘Right-To-Try’ Laws Expose Dying Patients To Exploitation, Ethicists Warn

In the past three years, 33 U.S. states have passed laws aimed at helping dying people get easier access to experimental treatments. Supporters say these patients are just looking for the “right to try” these treatments. Such laws may sound compassionate, but medical ethicists warn they pose worrisome risks to the health and finances of vulnerable patients

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.

Bioethics Blogs

Neil Gorsuch and End of Life Liberty

Judge Neil Gorsuch

Kathryn L. Tucker
(Executive Director of the End of Life Liberty Project) and David C.
Leven (Executive Director Emeritus and Senior Consultant for End of Life
Choices New York
) wrote the following letter to the Washington Post on Judge Gorsuch.

Judge Gorsuch’s views on
what he erroneously terms “Assisted Suicide” are very alarming to
those who support the right of terminally ill patients to choose a more
peaceful death via aid in dying. This refers to the practice where a physician
prescribes medication for a mentally competent terminally ill patient, which
the patient may ingest to achieve a peaceful death.  Modern medicine can extend the dying process
so that some patients find themselves trapped in an experience they find
unbearable. Thus the option of AID is widely supported nationwide, the vast
majority of Americans, around 70%, as well as by doctors, by an almost 2 to 1
margin, 57% to 29%. Six states now permit this practice.

Judge Gorsuch asserts
that “all human beings are intrinsically valuable”, but he envisions
a “legal system that allows for terminally ill patients to refuse
treatments that would extend their lives”, which has been the law now for
several decades.  According to his
reasoning, a dying patient may have life sustaining treatment stopped, for
example refusing continued treatment with a ventilator, knowing she will die,
and where the doctor who withdraws the ventilator plays an active role in the
resulting death. But, another dying patient not on life extending treatment, suffering
equally or even more, would be prohibited, according to the position taken by
Judge Gorsuch, from securing a prescription for medication the patient could
ingest to achieve a peaceful death, even though the doctor plays a more limited
role in the resulting death.

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.

Bioethics News

Bioethics With Dr. Jeffrey Kahn: A Question Of Assisted Suicide

Listen Now: Dr. Jeffrey Kahn, the Director of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics, joins host Tom Hall in the studio to discuss the dilemmas that dying patients, their families, and doctors face

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.

Bioethics News

Finland set to debate euthanasia

A citizen’s initiative to raise the issue of euthanasia in the Finnish Parliament (Eduskunta) has passed the requisite 50,000 signatories required to trigger a parliamentary debate.

As in many countries, Finland has been dicing with euthanasia for some years now. The pro-euthanasia lobby, Exitus has been active since the early 1990s. As in many countries, the notional public support for euthanasia is above the two-thirds mark. Support amongst the nations doctors has also been steadily increasing in recent years with support and oppose numbers in the medical profession both at 46% in 2014.

As with all Finnish Citizen’s Initiatives, the ‘Euthanasia initiative on behalf of a good death’ includes a prescription of the form of the Bill to be debated. The presented model is for euthanasia for people experiencing an ‘incurable fatal disease, and death takes place in the near future’. The registered signatories now exceed 62000 which should ensure that, after exclusion checks, that a formal bill is developed and that the parliament is compelled to move to a vote.

The sponsor for the initiative is former Finnish MP, Esko Olavi Seppänen. Seppänen, a member of the Left Alliance Party and earlier the Finnish Communist Party, he was also a Member of the European Parliament from 1996 to 2009 as a Member of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL).

The Finnish Medical Association remains opposed to the initiative. Association head Heikki Palve said that the majority of palliative care doctors working with dying patients object to legalising euthanasia. A 2010 survey of doctors attitudes found that, in their opinion, more training on palliative care would diminish requests for active euthanasia and improve physicians’ skills in dealing with the difficult challenges faced in end-of-life situations and care.

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.

Bioethics News

Help for Hospice Staff: Meaningful Rituals

December 14, 2016

(Medscape) – Rituals are symbolic activities that can provide comfort, meaning, and support and relieve anxiety associated with uncertainties, such as those faced at the end of life. Rituals offer opportunities for shared experiences and can be an important part of the healing process. For clinicians who care for dying patients and their family members, rituals can offer a way to channel their responses to the secondary traumatic stress of repeated exposure to suffering and death.

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.

Bioethics News

GBI excited to ​announce new President, Dr. Bruce Gelb

Global Bioethics Initiative is pleased to announce the election of Dr. Bruce Gelb, M.D., F.A.C.S, as President of the Board of Directors. Dr. Gelb is an Assistant Professor of Surgery at NYU Langone Medical Center, School of Medicine, and the Surgical Director of Renal Transplantation of the NYU Langone Transplant Institute. He also performs liver transplant surgery and is a key member of the Face Transplant team. He has a vested interest in the field of bioethics, especially the ethics of transplantation.

“As a transplant surgeon, bioethics encompasses virtually every aspect of my work. I had the honor of joining GBI’s Board of Directors three years ago and served as the Interim President of the organization since July 2016. It has been an honor to serve as a lecturer in both Manhattan and Dubrovnik schools and symposiums on the ethics of organ transplantation alongside with world experts in various other fields. I am strong supporter of the mission and educational programs of this young organization.”

Since March 2016, he serves as the Chair of the Quality Improvement Committee at the NYU Langone Medical Center and holds an appointment as a Representative of the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) Ethics Committee for a three-year term. Dr. Gelb has received the multiple clinical awards, including: Castle Connolly Top Doctor, New York 2016, NY Top Docs 2015, Super Doctors “Rising Star” 2013 and 2014, and Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honors Society. He holds board certification in General Surgery and is certified in Liver, Kidney, and Pancreas transplantation, and Living Donor Surgery.

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.

Bioethics News

Doctors association refuses to back euthanasia in Australia

AMA President Michael Gannon  

After surveying its members the Australian Medical Association has reaffirmed its opposition to euthanasia and assisted suicide. “Doctors should not be involved in interventions that have as their primary intention the ending of a person’s life,” says the latest version of its end-of-life care policy.

But doctors do “have an ethical duty to care for dying patients so that death is allowed to occur in comfort and with dignity”.

The statement comes at a time when some state legislatures are debating euthanasia. A bill failed earlier this month in South Australia but supporters are pushing for bills in Victoria and Tasmania.

Euthanasia campaigners detected a shift in the AMA’s stance. Dr Rodney Syme, a urologist who says that he has helped about 100 patients to die, said that the AMA’s position that “laws in relation to euthanasia and physician assisted suicide are ultimately a matter for society and government” verged on neutrality rather than opposition.

But the AMA also demands that both patients and doctors need to be protected if euthanasia becomes legal – patients against abuse and doctors against coercion.

AMA President, Michael Gannon, said that 50% of the 4000 doctors who responded to the survey said doctors should not be involved in euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide, 38% said they should be and 12% neither agreed or disagreed. Most respondents did not want to provide a euthanasia service themselves, although they agreed that giving lethal injections was a job for doctors.

Against the background of the failure of pollsters to capture the views of voters in the recent US presidential election, it is hard to tell whether this survey reflects the views of Australian doctors.

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.

Bioethics News

A Trump Bioethics Commission?

As the Presidential race finishes with President-elect Trump as the victor, questions of different commissions’ steady life come into play. For the bioethical community, the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues is one that might suffer under the new administration.

Bioethics as a legitimate issue has been on the President’s ear since 1974 when the National Commission was created. Only under President George H.W. Bush, was there no commission whatsoever. And even though the issues the commissions raised up weren’t apparent when the Presidents ran for office, they all emerged during their administration; and because of public demand for answers such commissions were created. This begs the question: will some issue emerge that will stimulate the Trump administration to create a bioethics body?

Let’s remember that these Commissions are created and abolished by the stroke of a pen; and even if their existence is on a thin line or they may exist for a short period of time, their contributions help shape the different bioethical issues that arise in their time and their recommendations last a lifetime of discussion.

Read the whole article here.

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The post A Trump Bioethics Commission?

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.