Is there an ethical limit to prolonging life?

Question: Is there an ethical limit to prolonging life?

 

Ira Byock: Well, I think that its appropriate to preserve into frankly celebrate life, I think the notion of being life affirming is something that I think all of us in healthcare really affirm and celebrate, and I don’t know of any more pro-life a group then, those of us who work in hospice and palliative care, frankly. But to celebrate life, to affirm life, one really needs to affirm all of life, and its turns out that this gift of life as precious as it is, is a finite gift. And part of life for ourselves as individuals will be this time we call dying. And part of life for our families is a time of life we go on grieving, and really to be life affirming, one has to encompass that in a full and healthy perspective on living.

So I frankly think that, that again our culture and healthcare as a set of professions are disciplines within the culture, really has to grow the rest of the way up. We have to get over the fact that we are mortal, and integrate these inevitable experiences of dying, death and grief within as a view of full and healthy living. Otherwise if you just focus on living longer at some point, its not just ethically problematic, it becomes delusional. It’s just not going to happen. And so well its fine to strive to prolong life, you have to figure out a way to do that, and also acknowledge that if this is the last part of somebody’s life, it also ought to be as comfortable as it can be, and that their own values and priorities need to be incorporated into an approach, a plan of care and general approach that really service them and their families.

 

Recorded on: March 21, 2008

 

Is there an ethical limit to prolonging life?

Supreme Court to hear 3 cases on LGBT workplace discrimination

In most states, LGBTQ Americans have no legal protections against discrimination in the workplace.

(Photo by Andres Pantoja/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • The Supreme Court will decide whether the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also applies to gay and transgender people.
  • The court, which currently has a probable conservative majority, will likely decide on the cases in 2020.
  • Only 21 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws effectively extending the Civil Rights of 1964 to gay and transgender people.
Keep reading Show less

Scientists discover how to trap mysterious dark matter

A new method promises to capture an elusive dark world particle.

Surprising Science
  • Scientists working on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) devised a method for trapping dark matter particles.
  • Dark matter is estimated to take up 26.8% of all matter in the Universe.
  • The researchers will be able to try their approach in 2021, when the LHC goes back online.
Keep reading Show less

Afghanistan is the most depressed country on Earth

No, depression is not just a type of "affluenza" — poor people in conflict zones are more likely candidates

Image: Our World in Data / CC BY
Strange Maps
  • Often seen as typical of rich societies, depression is actually more prevalent in poor, conflict-ridden countries
  • More than one in five Afghans is clinically depressed – a sad world record
  • But are North Koreans really the world's 'fourth least depressed' people?
Keep reading Show less