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Die Harder: End-of-life issues bring focus to bioethics challenges high media profile and prolific pace of blogging and writing. His feisty sense of humor and a disarming, gregarious personality often take the edge off any conversation about death, dying, genomics or the ethics of stem cell research, topics that easily raise the hackles of supporters and critics. For philosophy professor Hayes, discussions about end-of-life issues today hinge upon how much sovereign power or authority a state has to legislate or decide these issues. In that sense, he adds, “the rights of the individual are often weighed against the rights of the state.” Hayes believes there should be more public discussion about death, dying, and how we die, with a broader emphasis Bioethics & End-of-Life upon the underlying implications for At Lancaster General Health, an social policy. That can be difficult, ethics committee headed by physicians however, because of and comprised of medical media misinformation staff, attorneys and pastoral care members trained “We need philosophers and and the lack of political motivation to tackle such in ethics, continually educators to first present difficult issues. reviews the issues in order “We need philosophers to make knowledgeable these issues in the clearest and educators to first recommendations to present these issues in the doctors, patients and and most rationally clearest and most rationally families. Specific cases at defensible way,” he says. the facility and the external defensible way.” That has been happening landscape are always being Professor Josh Hayes over the past decade as evaluated. At the end of the more philosophers are day, though, it’s the ethics asked to serve on ethics that drive the final decision. committees at hospitals, providing an “You have to understand the ethics opportunity for them to “contribute and the rules and recognize where more to a conversation that serves the you sit spiritually or religiously and common good,” Hayes says. as part of a broader community,” Dr. Looking ahead, there will no shortage Beeman reckons. of ethical issues for Caplan and other Caplan and Beeman do agree on bioethicists to examine. The science of one thing: There are no easy solutions brain research and new knowledge of to easing end-of-life decisions. Caplan the brain and how it functions will raise urges people to have serious family critical questions about mental health conversations about what interventions and aptitude screening for children. are wanted before they are needed Synthetic biology — the design and — not when you call 911 — and for construction of new biological entities doctors to more readily offer their such as enzymes, genetic circuits and opinions while respecting informed cells to improve biological functions consent. For his part, Beeman suggests — will challenge notions of how we starting medical ethics training as an can engineer life. And with an aging undergraduate (as he did, taught by a population, the debate over managing person he describes as “a wise Jesuit”) health care costs will certainly escalate. as the baseline for understanding Ernest Beck is a freelance journalist the arguments before moving on to and former veteran Wall Street Journal medical school. reporter. He writes on a range of subjects for Bioethicists like Caplan play an publications including The New York Times important role in public debates and and SmallBiz. policy making, especially given his God. Human life on earth, correctly understood, is only a preparation for the life beyond. Our suffering, like that of Christ, is redemptive,” says Sr. Jacinta Respondowska, OSF, Ph.D., former chair of Alvernia’s department of philosophy and theology and an emerita faculty member. “Christ is with us during our illness and shares in our suffering as we share in His and this should always comfort us. Remember, God Himself entered into human suffering through His Son who suffered and died so that we could overcome death and rise to the fullness of life with Him. He does not ask us to carry a cross He himself has not first borne.”

20 Alvernia University Magazine

Alvernia Magazine Summer 2014  
Alvernia Magazine Summer 2014  

Alvernia Magazine Summer 2014