15 safeguards below gather the considered
opinions of the patient,
the doctors, the family, & any ethical consultants who might be involved
—including (possibly) members of the clergy.
Also there should be appropriate waiting periods, full reporting,
& the possibility of prosecution for those who violate the safeguards
—and as a result cause premature deaths.
1. Living Will
and/or other Requests for Death from the Patient.
2. Informed Consent from the
Patient and Unbearable Suffering.
3. Psychological Consultant Certifies that the Patient is Able to Decide.
4. Doctor's Summary of Condition and Prognosis.
5. Independent Doctor Confirms the Condition and Prognosis.
6. Hospital or Hospice Care.
7. Significant Others Agree with the Life-Ending Decision.
8. Requests for Death from
9. Member of the Clergy Approves the Life-Ending Decision.
10. Statements from Advocates for Disadvantaged Groups.
Committee Reviews the Life-Ending
Report to the Prosecutor before the Death Takes Place.
13. Criminal and Civil Penalties for Causing Premature Death.
14. Waiting Periods for Reflection.
15. Complete Reporting of all Material Facts.
on links: Each of the safeguards introduced in this cyber-sermon
has a more extensive explanation on the Internet,
which is linked from each brief description here.
In the 21st century, the style of our dying
Human beings have faced death from the beginning of the human race.
And until recently, we human beings could do little to extend our lives.
When our bodies wore out or we caught fatal diseases, we died
—just like all the other animals with whom we share the Earth.
But in the last 350 years—since the dawn of modern science—
we have gained ever more control over the ways we live and die.
And now most deaths that take place in modern hospitals
have some element of choice involved with them.
So we must think more deeply about life-ending decisions.
Otherwise we will 'decide' by default,
which means allowing the standard operating procedures
of modern medicine to make our end-of-life decisions for us,
based on generic medical principles we might not share.
1. Advance Directives and/or
other Requests for Death from the Patient.
of us must eventually face our own deaths.
If we have planned ahead for this eventuality,
we will have created Advance Directives for Medical Care.
And as we approach the last days of our lives,
we will know the likely causes of our deaths.
And we can revise our plans accordingly.
might even include explicit
requests for death
when we deteriorate into conditions in which
dying now would be better than dying later.
Any such requests for death should be in writing,
so that all of the others who will be involved with our dying
will know our wishes—and the reasons for our choices.
Informed Consent from the Patient and Unbearable Suffering.
Related to our requests for death
is the basis for these requests in our actual medical condition.
These safeguards will be more meaningful
if we have fully understood our doctors' summaries of our condition and prognosis.
We have examined all of the available options for further treatment
and we have probably tried the most promising cures.
Only then can be give wise and informed consent for the option of death.
It will help others to
understand our life-ending decision
if we explain in our own words the kinds of suffering we are now experiencing.
If we have physical suffering beyond what we can bear,
then this might be a valid reason for choosing death.
Likewise, the nature
of our suffering might be psychological or mental.
When we explain our unbearable psychological suffering,
others who read our explanations will also agree with us
that choosing death now
might be better than more psychological suffering,
which will only end in a natural death after more unbearable suffering.
Psychological Consultant Certifies that the Patient is Able to
there is any doubt about our mental capacity to make end-of-life
then a psychological professional can be asked for an opinion.
This consultant will make sure
(1) that we have considered all the reasonable alternatives to death,
(2) that we are making a fully-informed choice to end our lives,
(3) that we are not being coerced in any way to end our lives, &
(4) that we are not depressed by some bio-chemical imbalance.
This professional opinion should also be put into writing.
4. Doctor's Summary of Condition and Prognosis.
of us will be under some kind of medical care at the end of our lives.
The doctor in charge of our care should write a summary
of our physical condition and the likely developments
under various options of treatment or non-treatment.
other people who will take part in our end-of-life choices
should refer to the doctors' statements when writing their own statements.
Go to the Right-to-Die Portal.
Return to the DEATH page.
Go to the Medical Ethics index page.
Go to other
cyber-sermons by James Park,
organized into 10 subject-areas.
Return to the beginning
An Existential Philosopher's Museum .