Advance Directives, Dementia, and Physician-Assisted Death

Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 41 (2):484-500 (2013)
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Abstract

Almost all jurisdictions where physician-assisted death is legal require that the requesting individual be competent to make medical decisions at time of assistance. The requirement of contemporary competence is intended to ensure that PAD is limited to people who really want to die and have the cognitive ability to make a final choice of such enormous import. Along with terminal illness, defined as prognosis of death within six months, contemporary competence is regarded as an important safeguard against mistake and abuse, arguably the strongest objections to legalizing PAD.The insistence on contemporary competence is problematic. It means that someone who has dementia is ruled out as a candidate for PAD, even if she is terminally ill and suffering terrible and unrelievable pain. It also rules out individuals with strong and unwavering desires not to end their life in dementia.

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Advance Directives, Dementia, and Physician‐Assisted Death.Paul T. Menzel & Bonnie Steinbock - 2013 - Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 41 (2):484-500.
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