Published: February 19, 2015
Total Running Time: 00:54:28
Is there a constitutional right to “physician-assisted suicide”? What about a “dignified death”—and what is a dignified death? Should terminally ill patients facing mental incapacitation or unbearable pain have access to fatal ingestion—also known as physician aid in dying? Or would that jeopardize our society’s progress toward more compassionate, comfort-based care?
In California, a person is legally dead when all brain functions, or all circulatory and respiratory functions, irrevocably cease. In cases of brain death, a person on life support may still breathe or maintain a heartbeat, obscuring the boundaries between life and death. In other cases, a person may be alive in the legal sense, persisting in a vegetative state, but only through medical support. Physicians are compelled to make every intervention to save a life, regardless of expense or prognosis. And yet there are times when treatments are considered unhelpful, unwanted, or at worst, to interfere with a patient’s autonomy over the dying process.
Join host David Faigman and Dr. John Luce and Dr. Laura Petrillo of the University of California San Francisco to discuss the facts, legal ramifications, and ethical concerns surrounding physician aid in dying. Learn how medical professionals can facilitate a peaceful and personally meaningful dying process, and share your insights on this important topic.