The question of whether a physician can assist a terminally ill patient end his or her suffering was examined in an Albuquerque courtroom over the past two days. The question centers on the definition of physician aid-in-dying and is it really physician-assisted-suicide?
If you want to discuss these issues, there’s a great opportunity tomorrow to the next Albuquerque Death Cafe, taking place Saturday, December 14 at 2:30 p.m. at Sheila’s Sweets, 8600 Indian School Road NE (just east of Wyoming).
The ACLU and Compassion & Choices, a national advocacy organization for end-of-life issues, are representing Dr. Katherine Morris, an oncologist at the University of New Mexico Hospital. She is one of three plaintiffs in a civil lawsuit asking a court to find that physicians may legally assist terminally ill, mentally competent patients with the dying process to end their suffering.
A two-day bench trial began Wednesday before 2nd Judicial District Judge Nan Nash.
The other plaintiffs are Aroop Mangalik, another oncologist and Aja Riggs, a patient with cervical cancer that’s currently in remission. The court case seeks to clarify the New Mexico statute on assisted suicide or have it declared unconstitutional.
Here are more details in two stories from The Albuquerque Journal:
Dec. 11, 2013: Right-to-die case starts today
Dec. 12, 2013: Doctor: Patient ended suffering, ‘not her life’
The objective of Death Cafe is “To increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives.” It’s all about an interesting, unstructured conversation – open and free-flowing with no specific agenda.
Since there is no specific agenda, it is up to participants to bring up the topic of physician aid-in-dying. Death Cafe hostess Gail Rubin with A Good Goodbye noted, “This topic has come up in the past five Death Cafe events I have held here over the past year.”
The Death Cafe concept was started in the United Kingdom by Jon Underwood. He was influenced by the ideas of Swiss sociologist Bernard Crettaz, who started holding Cafe Mortel events in France and Switzerland. At these events, people come together in a relaxed, confidential and safe setting to discuss death, drink tea (or your favorite beverage) and eat delicious cake or cookies.
To attend the event, please contact Gail Rubin at 505.265.7215 or email Gail@AGoodGoodbye.com.