Publication date:28 March 2019
Length of book:266 pages
PublisherRowman & Littlefield International
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.
LiPuma and DeMarco boldly challenge us to consider end of life options that align with realities of medicine, palliative care, and social supports in the US today. Through riveting case studies and exploration of religious and secular thought, moral theory, and ethics, they propose a framework for broadening approaches to what they unapologetically acknowledge as “hastening death.” Clinicians, educators, policy-makers, and the informed public must read this work.