Defining shades of Dead

On September 10, 2008, in ethics, public health, religion, by Karen Grepin

With all the talk of religion, abortion, and right to life brought about by McCain's choice of Sarah Palin as his Vice-Presidential running mate, I thought this news clip in the upcoming BMJ was quite appropriately timed. The Vatican has recently expressed a concern with the currently, generally accepted, definition of death as the point of brain death. However, it seems the Vatican would like to see this definition to be redefined to the point of cessation of breathing and circulation. The implication of this recommendation would be that hundreds or thousands more people each year would likely be kept "alive" on breathing machines and other equipment for long periods, almost all of whom have very little hope of recovery. Admittedly, I have actually given this topic very little thought over the years but do feel as though I find the existing guidelines to be more humane and more what I would want for myself. But it is good to think about these things every now and again…

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