More than 2 million people die every year in the United States, almost always in the presence of life-sustaining medical technology. An overwhelming consensus exists that sometimes the choices posed by medical technology make death the least worst alternative. Yet choosing death or letting go is often a painful and contentious business. In this free talk, "Decisions at the End of Life: The Illusion of Control and the Sense of Responsibility," bioethicist Dr. Stuart J. Youngner will explore some of the ways our society and others are coping with this unavoidable dilemma.
Youngner received a B.A. from Swarthmore College and an M.D. from Case Western Reserve University, where he is Susan E. Watson Professor of Bioethics and chair of the Department of Bioethics, as well as a professor of psychiatry. He did an internship in pediatrics and a residency in psychiatry at University Hospitals of Cleveland and subsequently received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities to study medical ethics at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics at Georgetown University. He is a nationally and internationally recognized scholar in biomedical ethics and has published and spoken on topics including: decisions to limit life-sustaining treatment, ethics committees, physician-assisted suicide, advance directives, definitions of death, and ethical issues in organ and tissue retrieval and transplantation. He has published over 90 articles in peer-reviewed scholarly journals. He is the editor or coeditor of nine books, including The Definition of Death: Contemporary Controversies (Johns Hopkins University Press). His latest book, Physician-Assisted Death in Perspective: Assessing the Dutch Experience, was published by Cambridge University Press in July 2012.