The Ascent of Medical Technology
FROM THE TIME I began working on right-to-die cases in the spring of 1987 until today, the only real way that I’ve had any luck in making sense of the complicated legal, medical and ethical issues raised by a case like Terri Schiavo’s is to put those issues into some kind of historical context. This context also helps illustrate how new the questions posed by the Schiavo case are in our culture and how quickly these questions have come upon all of us. There are many ways to tackle such a task, but I want to do it with the stories of three doctors.
At 2:30 a.m. on November 3, 1959, a phone call from an emergency room nurse woke Dr. Bernard Lown in his apartment in Brookline, Massachusetts. A patient whom he had treated for about ten weeks for