Senior Scholars John Keown and Daniel Sulmasy each spoke at a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Workshop on Physician-Assisted Death in February. The workshop, titled Physician-Assisted Death: Scanning the Landscape and Potential Approaches, took place at the National Academy of Sciences Building in Washington D.C. Feb. 12-13. The workshop aimed to explore the evidence base and research gaps relating to the implementation of the clinical practice of allowing terminally ill patients to access life-ending medications with the aid of a physician.
The workshop sourced experts, including Keown and Sulmasy, to shine light on the evidentiary landscape of physician-assisted death and discuss the legal and conceptual frameworks of physician-assisted death. The workshop did not intend to discuss the moral or ethical arguments for or against physician-assisted death practices, but to instead provide a “neutral space” to facilitate dialogue on the topic. Among the questions posed at the workshop included:
- – What is known empirically about the access to and practice of physician-assisted death in the U.S. and in other countries?
- – What are potential approaches for physicians, including those practicing in states where it is legal, those who receive a request for access when the practice is legal in nearby states but not in the state of practice, and those who practice in a state where it is legal but are personally opposed to physician-assisted death.
- – What is known about how palliative care and hospice services have incorporated the practice of physician-assisted death in states where it is legal?
The workshop was sponsored by the Greenwall Foundation.