This vitally important book attempts to move beyond the current death-denying culture. The use of euphemistic and defiant phrases when dealing with terminal disease such as “She lost her battle with cancer” was more appropriate when medical doctors could do little to prolong life. But treatments and technologies have significantly changed. Now life prolonging interventions have outpaced our willingness to use medical intervention to secure patient control over death and dying. We now face a new question: When is it morally appropriate for medical intervention to hasten the dying process? LiPuma and DeMarco answer by endorsing expanded options for dying patients. Unwanted aggressive treatment regimens and protocols which reject hastening death should be replaced by a patient’s moral right, in carefully defined circumstances, to hasten death by means of medical intervention. Expanded options range from patient directed continuous sedation without hydration to physician assisted suicide for those with progressive degenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s. The authors’ overriding goal is to humanize the dying process by expanding patient centered autonomous control.
This book moves brilliantly between philosophy, clinical studies, and the analysis of medical cases taken from different jurisdictions. The authors firmly argue that as a matter of public policy the options for patients to hasten their death should be expanded, also to include PAS and euthanasia. For judging such requests, they present criteria that might do within American (medical) culture.
Introduction / Part I: Death and Dying: History and Contemporary Issues / 1. A Brief History of Death and Dying / 2. Medical and Technological Issues regarding Death and Dying / 3. Brain Death / 4. Death and Dying: International Perspectives / 5. What is a good death? / 6. Physician and Patient Discussions of Death and Dying / Part II: Hospice and Palliative Care / 7. The Hospice and Palliative Care Movements / 8. Critical Analysis of the Hospice and Palliative Care Movements / Part III: On Hastening Death: Old and New Perspectives / 10. New Perspectives: Expanding the Options for Hastening Death / 11. Special Cases of Dementia and Degenerative diseases / 12. Drawing the line / 13. Concluding remarks