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Respecting Choice in Definitions of Death.

  • Academic Journal
  • The Hastings Center report [Hastings Cent Rep] 2018 Nov; Vol. 48 Suppl 4, pp. S53-S55.
  • English
  • The definition of death was clearer one hundred years ago than it is today. People were declared dead if diagnosed with permanent cessation of both cardio-circulatory function and respiratory function. But the definition has been muddled by the development of new technologies and interventions-first by cardiopulmonary resuscitation and ventilators, which were introduced in the mid-twentieth century, and now by extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, which creates the ability to keep oxygenated blood circulating, with or without a beating heart or functioning lungs. In Defining Death: The Case for Choice, Robert Veatch and I argue that the definition of death should focus on "what change in a human being is so fundamental that we can say the individual is no longer with us as a member of the human community bearing rights such as the right not to be killed." We assert that this decision is a normative issue about which different stakeholders may believe that different changes are fundamental, and we therefore propose that the optimal policy solution may be to allow stakeholders to choose their own definition within a reasonable range of options. There are three caveats that need to be highlighted regarding this approach.
    (© 2018 The Hastings Center.)
Additional Information
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Country of Publication: United States NLM ID: 0410447 Publication Model: Print Cited Medium: Internet ISSN: 1552-146X (Electronic) Linking ISSN: 00930334 NLM ISO Abbreviation: Hastings Cent Rep Subsets: MEDLINE
Publication: 2012- : Malden, MA : Wiley-Blackwell
Original Publication: Hastings-on-Hudson, N. Y., Institute of Society, Ethics and the Life Sciences.
Date Created: 20181226 Date Completed: 20190925 Latest Revision: 20190925

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