Chapter EightA Few Words about Big Issues

“An issue is as big as the lie you can tell about it.”

—unattributed

SITUATION #10 Easy Conscience

A terminal patient is in great pain but, with the concurrence of his family, refuses, for religious reasons, to allow the plug (on further therapeutic treatment) to be pulled. However, the patient requests that everything be done to reduce the pain to the maximum possible extent. The patient’s physicians explain that the pain can be reduced and almost eliminated, but at the expense of the patient’s consciousness and, imminently, his life. The patient and the patient’s family find this consequence acceptable. The physicians, however, wonder if they are participating in an assisted suicide.

If you were called ...

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