Four-Part Series: Value-Based Decisions at End of Life

Sponsored by Fearrington Cares

The first two sessions in this four-part series will explore the ethical and legal context for end-of-life decision-making, from foundational “right to choose” cases that brought bioethics into public awareness in the 1970s, to the present-day landscape related to medical aid in dying (sometimes referred to as “assisted suicide”). Also included will be discussion of the limits of our choice mechanisms and the distress that can occur at the hospital bedside when patient preferences have not been communicated in advance. In the last two sessions of the series, we will build on this background by supporting participants in articulating their values for care at end of life and exploring the range of available options for translating those values into purposeful advance care plans.

Session 1: Evolution and Limits of the Right to Choose; How ‘Not to Choose’ Is a Choice
Thursday, September 9, 7:00 pm via Zoom

Nancy M. P. King, JD, is a Professor in the Department of Social Sciences and Health Policy and in the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine at the Wake Forest School of Medicine. She is also Co-Director of the Center for Bioethics, Health, and Society at Wake Forest University. Her presentation will cover:

• History of end-of-life decision-making from Karen Ann Quinlan to today
• Treatment as the standard of care: bedside tales when patient values and preferences are not specified in advance
• State statutory hierarchy for surrogate decision-making

Session 2: Medical Aid in Dying (MAID): Lessons Learned from Vermont and Elsewhere
Thursday, October 21, 7:00 pm (NOTE: Third Thursday) at The Gathering Place

Mara Buchbinder, PhD, is a Professor in the UNC Department of Social Medicine and a core faculty member in the UNC Center for Bioethics. Her presentation will cover:

• Current legal landscape of medical aid in dying in the United States
• Stories from clinicians and patients in Vermont—and how they stray from the dominant public narratives about assisted death
• Broader takeaway lessons about choice, control, and the privilege of planning

Session 3: Death and Dying: Isn’t It Time We Talked?
Thursday, November 11, 7:00 pm at The Gathering Place

Deb Love, JD, MBA, MA (Bioethics), an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the UNC Department of Social Medicine, and Mara Buchbinder will provide a joint session covering:

• Personal nature of values and preferences
• Clarifying your values
• Considerations in selecting your healthcare agent; understanding the NC statutory hierarchy for decision makers in the event you do not choose
• Beginning the conversation with your loved ones

Session 4: Helping Others Know and Honor Your Wishes
Thursday, December 9, 7:00 pm at The Gathering Place

Deb Love will complete our series by discussing:

• Advance directives and portable medical orders—benefits and limitations
• Voluntarily Stopping Eating and Drinking (VSED)
• Dementia advance directives
• Differences between palliative care and hospice
• End of life doulas