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Do you believe there is such a thing as a dignified death?

May 29, 2022
Christopher R. Teeple

Instructions: Choices – Death with Dignity
Most, if not all of the videos listed for this module are difficult to watch and may well pull at your deepest emotions. The intent in requiring that you view them is to introduce you to the topic of Physician Assisted Suicide (PAS) and Hospice in a way that is more personal than simply reading an academic text or journal.
Too often, as we go through a course of this nature, at the speed with which we are covering topics, it is easy to forget that the patients we read about are fathers, sons, mothers, daughters, friends and family very much like our own. Many of us may be able to identify with the scenarios and people we discuss, due to our own personal experience. As you watch the videos, do not worry about taking notes. Simply sit back and reflect on what is presented.
Ironically, the ideology behind PAS and Hospice may seem surprisingly similar, although the mechanisms for preserving the patient’s dignity are markedly different. On the surface, it would appear that allowing both options provides the greatest amount of autonomy for all concerned. In a bizarre twist, however, for those experiencing progressive, disabling, chronic but non-terminal disease, those who have a terminal disease but are severely physically handicapped and those who do not have capacity do not have the option of PAS, as two of the requirements under current US law are that the patient must have decision-making capacity and must be able to ingest the lethal medication without assistance.
Part 1
Let’s start with an opinion question
Many of the choices we have talked about address a person’s choice for a death with dignity. Do you believe there is such a thing as a dignified death?
Part 2
Watch the video, “The Suicide Plan” and discuss the following:
Frontline: The Suicide Plan (Links to an external site.) [Video file, 1:23:41 min]
Answer and respond to the questions below:
Which of the story’s did you find most compelling? Why? Did you agree or disagree with their decision?
Who are all of the stakeholders in this decision and how are they impacted by his decision?
Identify the ethical controversies surrounding PAS and the impact on the professional.
Physician Assisted Suicide legislation has been gaining momentum in many states.
Take a moment to examine what is currently happening in your state. What are some of the pros and cons for the legislation?

The Suicide Plan

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