This Thursday and Friday, the Harvard Medical School Center for Bioethics annual conference is Controlling Death? The policies, practices, and ethics of choosing when we die. It’s all about assisted suicide. The cost is only $50 for both days, and that is for the lunch provided both days.
When I first registered for this event several weeks ago, I was expecting a conference of essentially supporters of assisted suicide. When speaking with Dr. Komrad, he mentioned his friend Trudo Lemmens, who he describes as “one of the most powerful and scholarly opponents in the world.” I went back to look at the list of presenters and I was pleasantly surprised by the sheer number and variety of them, including Lemmens.
The days are fast-moving, with each lecture lasting only 25 minutes–well, with one notable exception. On Thursday, the last session of any interest (the late afternoon ones are just two personal stories) runs for a solid hour. “Should the Option of Physician-Assisted Death be Part of Good Palliative Care?” Moderated by Vicki Jackson–a palliative care physician and lobbyist–the panel consists of only two people, Dr. Diane Meier (former Hemlock Society member turned palliative care lobbyist) and Dr. Timothy Quill, who assisted the suicide of a leukemia patient in 1991, and of the landmark SCOTUS case, Vacco v Quill, in which he failed to strike down New York’s law prohibiting assisted suicide. Why wasn’t Dr. Laura Petrillo asked to join them? Because she is a palliative care physician against it?
You can see the full list of presenters by clicking on the banner below.