An interesting article from Slashdot today linking to this BBS story:
A US study suggests that people with strong religious beliefs appear to want doctors to do everything they can to keep them alive as death approaches. The study, following 345 patients with terminal cancer, found that ‘those who regularly prayed were more than three times more likely to receive intensive life-prolonging care than those who relied least on religion.
The BBC story says:
Those who regularly prayed were more than three times more likely to receive intensive life-prolonging care than those who relied least on religion.
The team’s report was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
It suggests that such care, including resuscitation, may make death more uncomfortable.
Just over 30% of those asked agreed with the statement that religion was “the most important thing that keeps you going”.
The poster on /. opines:
one would think that a strong belief in an afterlife would lead to a more resigned acceptance of death than nonbelievers who view death as the end of existence, the annihilation of consciousness and the self. Perhaps the concept of a Judgment produces death-bed doubts? (‘Am I really saved?’) Or, given the Judeo-Christian abhorrence of suicide, and the belief that it is God who must ultimately decide when it is ‘our time,’ is it felt that refusing aggressive life support measures or resuscitation is tantamount to deliberately ending one’s life prematurely?
I don’t know that I have any specific thoughts, other than to say that this is the opposite of what I would have expected.
Eluana Englaro, 38, died in the middle of a debate about her right to die last night after doctors stopped feeding her.
It is probably more accurate to say: “after the withdrawal of artificially supplied nutrition and hydration.” Details.
Italy sounded eerily similar to the US and (gasp!) Florida as Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi went to Parliament to push for the passage of a special law to reinsert Ms. Englaro’s feeding tube. After she passed away during the debate, Prime Minister Berlusconi “accused the country’s president of being partly responsible for [Ms Englaro’s] euthanasia ‘killing.’
There are a number of news articles on the story – I even heard it picked up by NPR yesterday here in Columbus, but you need not waste your time on them… Instead, spend the time calling an estate planning lawyer and getting yourself a living will and a health care proxy!
… Its catching on. Ohio did this recently with enactment of 2108.70 and it looks like Iowa is the newest state to allow something similar.
Matt Garnder of the Iowa Law Blog writes:
Governor Chet Culver signed SF 473 into law on April 11, 2008. Effective July 1, 2008, this new chapter to the Iowa Code (chapter 144C) authorizes an individual to designate an individual to make decisions over the disposition of their bodily remains following their death. The designation does not indicate how a person wants their body remains to be handled, only who has the authority to make those decisions that are “reasonable under the circumstances”.
Read the rest of Matt’s post (which includes the historical reasons for drafting the law) here.
Its not often that industries ask for increased regulation but it sounds like thats what the Cremation Association of North America is advocating. From this story at USA Today:
Currently 12 states — Arizona, California, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and West Virginia — regulate cremation, at a time when more people are choosing the service, said Mike Nicodemus, chairman of the association’s operator certification program. The rate of people choosing cremation had grown to one in three by the end of 2006, according to the group’s most recent figures.
Nicodemus said the majority of operators are honest, but the dishonest ones hurt the industry and tougher regulations are the only way to root them out. “We know that people with regulation in their state are held to a higher standard,” he said. “The girl that cuts my hair has to jump through more hoops than my crematory operator does,” he added.
So Ohio is not on the list. Ohio just got around to allowing directives that allow one to appoint an agent to carry out your final wishes regarding the disposition of one’s remains and my firm and I are doing more every week. The rise in popularity of cremation is an easily observable phenomenon so regulation probably isn’t too far behind. Thanks Professor!