24 Jan 2014

UPDATE Judge Intervenes: Texas Hospital Keeps Pregnant Body Functioning: Where Could This Lead?

BREAKING: Judge orders Texas hospital to remove life support from pregnant, brain-dead woman. — The Associated Press (@AP) January 24, 2014 Marlise Munoz is dead. She died Nov. 26, probably of a pulmonary embolus, when she was 14 weeks pregnant. But John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas refuses to

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16 May 2013

“Doctor, Please Help me Die”

Dr. Tom Preston, a Compassion & Choices leader in Seattle, chose these poignant words for the title of his new book. They are powerful words, gripping even on paper. Imagine them emerging from the lips of a patient, perhaps one whom the doctor has treated over decades, who is now

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25 Feb 2013

Oh, Freedom

Michael Morgan, founder and Executive Director of the African American Music Foundation, visited my church this week to celebrate Black History Month. During morning service his thrilling bass voice highlighted an inspiring memorial to Paul Robeson. That afternoon he delivered a recital and lecture on spirituals to an overflow crowd.

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24 Jan 2013

Potent Breakthrough in Canada

Last week the government of Quebec announced plans to recognize aid in dying as a legal and protected medical practice in the province. They promise a new law by this summer. A tremendously exciting announcement, it reveals a seismic shift in the thinking of both medical and political leaders. I

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31 Oct 2012

Vote Like Your Future Depends on It

This election season is extracting an enormous toll from candidates and citizens alike. Pressure is always intense in a Presidential year, but this year is different.  Airwaves and Internet hammer away with news of poll after poll, minute campaign details and endless tit for tat. The presidential race, Senate and

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27 Jun 2012

Catholic Healthcare West Becomes Dignity Health

Expansion in Oregon Tests whether it’s a Distinction without a Difference As I previously blogged, the Catholic hospital brand is no longer desirable in the marketplace for mergers and acquisitions of healthcare entities. This realization led Catholic Healthcare West, the nation’s fifth largest healthcare conglomerate, to give up its status

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19 Jun 2012

The Demise of the Catholic Hospital Brand

It used to be Americans viewed Catholic hospitals and healthcare systems with universal respect and trust. They had no reason to do otherwise. Founded in the nineteenth century by orders of nuns with a mission to care for the poor, Catholic hospitals grew and thrived in modern industrial medicine. Many

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30 May 2012

Should Doctors Learn to Grieve?

Why is it so difficult for doctors to confront the truth when a patient is dying, and almost impossible for most to talk about it openly with the patient and loved ones? Last week I shared a hunch. A journalist asked me the question, “Why do doctors find these conversations

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25 May 2012

The Religious Right’s Assault on Palliative Care

Anti-choice forces are taking aim at end-of-life care. They’re after people at the end of a long decline who exercise their right to stop life-prolonging technology or treatment. Their tactic is to tie the hands of doctors attending those patients, when palliative treatment might ease the patient’s chosen death. They

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19 Apr 2012

When Wishes are Fishes

How do we get doctors to honor our wishes at the end of life? Most recommend preparing an advance directive, and I’m no exception. These documents are not infallible, but they are the best things we’ve got going for us when we can’t speak for ourselves. However, one popular advance

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