Health and Wellness

Caregivers' Circle

Stephanie Erickson

Caregivers’ Circle – The right to live or die – who decides? The ethics of terminal illness and chronic pain and suffering

In November 2014 Brittany Maynard made the news when at 29 years old, after being diagnosed with Stage 4 brain cancer, she evoked Oregon’s “Death with Dignity Act” which allows those with a terminal illness to voluntarily end their own life.  This sparked a lot of controversy about assisted suicide, euthanasia and who, if anyone has the right to end a life.  Does a doctor really have the right to end a life, even if their patient is 100% consenting and has a terminal illness?  Does an individual in extreme pain have the right to choose the moment of their death?  Can anyone choose to withdraw treatment once it has begun?  This week’s guest, Dr. Arthur Caplan, bioethicist and host of “Both Sides Now ON MEDSCAPE” and I explore the arguments posed by the proponents and opponents of assisted suicide, euthanasia and treatment withdrawal.