NYU Bioethics Public Lecture-'The Oregon Experience in Physician-Assisted Suicide' w/Peg Brand and Edward Weiser
At a recent meeting I got to hear the head of the Division of Bioethics at New York University, Arthur Caplan, give an excellent lecture. He talked about an extremely important issue which I may write about if I get the chance one of these days and he and I had a good talk afterwards. But in addition to being a great lecture, this also alerted me to the Bioethics department at my place of work and I have been paying a bit more attention to what they do.
Coming up is a public lecture offered by the Division of Bioethics at NYU. The topic is Physician-Assited suicide, an issue I have never really spent much time mulling over but is certainly an interesting and complex issue. Here's the info on the lecture:
Fri. 3/1/13: Bioethics Public Lecture-'The Oregon Experience in Physician-Assisted Suicide' w/Peg Brand and Edward Weiser
The NYU Center for Bioethics Invites You to Attend a Public Lecture by
Adjunct Instructor, Competition Not Conflict (CNC) Program, School of Law, University of Oregon
Edward Weiser, MD
'The Oregon Experience in Physician-Assisted Suicide'
Friday, March 1, 2013
5 Washington Place, Room 101
RSVP required-Reception to follow
The role of the physician in the passage of a dying patient can take various forms—simple observation and symptom control, actively causing the death of the patient without the patient’s explicit participation--or true euthanasia, and physician assistance to patients electively pursuing suicide. In 1994, Oregon passed and implemented the first physician-assisted suicide program for terminally ill patients in the U.S. Distinguishing the Oregon experience from traditional notions of physician-assisted dying is the statute’s full acknowledgement of patient autonomy and consent. Predictions by critics anticipating the failure of the program have been discredited by eighteen years of experience and clinical data. Oregon has not become the “suicide destination” of the country, the program has attracted very few patients with detectable psychiatric disease, and the creation of “death panels” devolving into government-directed euthanasia in order to reduce public health care expenditures has not materialized. The process by which this program was successfully instituted had much to do with the demographics of Oregon, the careful education of a voting public by medical and legal experts, and the allying of seemingly disparate groups to lend political support.
Peg Brand is adjunct instructor in the Competition Not Conflict (CNC) program of sports conflict resolution at the University of Oregon School of Law where she also teaches bioethics in the Robert D. Clark Honors College. She continues her affilitation with the Philosophy Department at IUPUI (Indiana University Purdue University - Indianapolis) as adjunct associate professor. Most recently, she is editor of Beauty Unlimited (Indiana University Press, 2013).
Dr. Ed Weiser is a gynecologic oncologist who retired in 2007 after more than 30 years of practice and 13 years of active duty in the US Navy. He has consulted for Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the National Cancer Institute of the NIH, and served on the faculty at Emory University School of Medicine and the National Naval Medical Center. He has published on women's reproductive health in various journals including Gynecologic Oncology and Obstetrics & Gynecology.
For more information about upcoming events, visit http://bioethics.as.nyu.edu/page/events.
Legal suicide has been a part of many cultures throughout history, from ancient Greece and Rome to even 20th Century Japan. Recently public suicides in several nations sparked the Arab Spring that is still sending ripples around the world. It is primarily Judeo-Christian ethics that have made suicide a "sin," for better or worse. And even in both traditions suicide has played its part, from the voluntary suicide of the last of the Jewish rebels at Masada when the Roman troops were coming to the deliberate seeking of death by Christian martyrs.
Physician-assisted suicide takes it one step further because it in essence turns the process of suicide into a medical procedure. Truth is a handful of physicians have told me about instances where patients are given an excess of pain killers to speed immanent death in a suffering, terminally ill patient. I believe this was even the theme of an episode of the TV show House MD...so it must be true ; -) !
I do not argue one way or the other on this issue. But it certainly is an issue worth discussing!