Enhanced Dying: Exploring the Dangers of Palliative Care Moving Beyond Therapy


2010 Parallel Paper Presentation, Beyond Therapy: Exploring Enhancement and Human Futures.

Abstract: The palliative and hospice movement have helped ensure quality care for patients with advanced and terminal illness. What began as a nursing led, volunteer run service for the dying has moved to the health industry and to the academy. This good movement is growing in its scope and ability. However, with this growth has come an ethical challenge to the limits of medical therapy directed to relieve the suffering of a dying patient. Some in the movement have changed the responsibility of a physician from caring for the patient to eliminating a patient’s suffering. This new proposed responsibility demands success that is not possible without a willingness to render a patient unconscious or to cause their death. This presentation will address how changing definitions of death, institutionalization of death, dualistic anthropology, and this new responsibility of medicine can encourage care beyond therapy to intentional sedation and assisted death. Corrected definitions and processes will be offered that will encourage responsible care of patients without violating accepted ethical standards.


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