“When Prolonging Death Seems Worse Than Death.” By Terry Gross, Fresh Air from WHYY

“We’re going to discuss a subject that’s difficult to talk about: end-of-life decisions for the terminally ill. My guest, Judith Schwarz, works with the group Compassion & Choices, serving as the regional clinical coordinator for the East Coast. Compassion & Choices helps support patients and their loved ones at the end of life and helps guide their search for a peaceful death. Schwarz refers patients to pain specialists, hospice care and other services, but if a patient feels they can no longer endure their suffering, and if the end is inevitable, and they are mentally capable of making a clear decision, she can advise them on legal ways to hasten their death.

The organization Compassion & Choices supports the right to die, but does not work outside the limits of the law, which vary from state to state. There are now three states, Washington, Oregon and Montana, where in certain instances, it’s legal for doctors to prescribe medication to hasten death. Schwarz is a former critical care nurse and has her doctorate in nursing research. She writes for nursing and palliative care journals and lectures to lay and professional audiences on ethical and clinical issues in end-of-life care.”

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