Right to Die Debate

Most of my research focuses on hospice and palliative care–so I think, study and talk a great deal about death. Invariably when I give a talk about hospice and palliative care policy, someone asks about physician assisted suicide. This surprises me because I see them as quite different, but I guess it shouldn’t since it keeps happening, especially if non researchers (normal people) are in the audience.

A flip response by someone (me) who feels quite morally muddled about physician suicide is to say something like “if we have better hospice and palliative care, then no one would be interested in physician assisted suicide.” I have said this in response to questions about physician assisted suicide and the right to die movement, but I don’t really think I fully believe this to be true.

I remain muddled on this issue, however, I do think this piece by Kevin Drum is the most coherent and honest thing I have ever read on the topic and I commend it to you.


About Don Taylor
Professor of Public Policy (with appointments in Business, Nursing, Community and Family Medicine, and the Duke Clinical Research Institute), and Chair of the Academic Council at Duke University https://academiccouncil.duke.edu/ . I am one of the founding faculty of the Margolis Center for Health Policy. My research focuses on improving care for persons who are dying, and I am co-PI of a CMMI award in Community Based Palliative Care. I teach both undergrads and grad students at Duke. On twitter @donaldhtaylorjr

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