Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

President's Council on Bioethics May Ponder End-of-Life Issues

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

President's Council on Bioethics May Ponder End-of-Life Issues

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- Issues relating to end-of-life care are among those the President's Council on Bioethics may study this year.

The council, which was created in 2001 by President Bush, is charged with advising the president as well as Congress "on bioethical issues that may emerge as a consequence of advances in biomedical science and technology," according to the council's mission statement.

Some of its recommendations have included suggestions for congressional legislation.

Regarding the kind of care that should be given at the end of life, "this area [of science] is 'pseudo-settled,'" council member Rebecca Dresser, the Daniel Noyes Kirby Professor of Law at Washington University in St. Louis, said at the group's January meeting.

"At a higher level, what does 'death with dignity' really mean? [I feel that the members of the council] could make a contribution" to the discussion.

Another member of the panel is Dr. Charles Krauthammer, a former psychiatrist who is now a syndicated newspaper columnist. He noted that some people would argue that the subject of "death with dignity" is becoming popular only because of the legendary narcissism of the aging Baby Boom generation, whose concerns have often guided the issues of the day that came under debate: "Now that we're going to die, let's study it,'" he said. "But I think it needs studying."

Panel member Dr. Daniel Foster, the John Denis McGarry, Ph.D., Distinguished Chair in Diabetes and Metabolic Research at the University of Texas in Dallas, said that any discussion of issues related to the elderly would have to include a detailed analysis of the economic consequences of caring for them, "which are huge. …

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