The End of Life: Ethical Considerations - Religious Teachings, Bioethics And Medical Practice, Patient Autonomy, The Desire To Die
death care convictions cultural
Defining death has become a complex matter. Innovative medical technology, while saving many lives, has also blurred the lines between life and death. The controversy about the definition of death is but one of the ethical issues, or principles of moral conduct, related to end-of-life care and decision making. For example, should a son or daughter request the withdrawal of nutrition and hydration from a parent in a persistent vegetative state, knowing that parent's respect for the sanctity of life? Does a physician honor a patient's do-not-resuscitate request when it goes against the physician's ethical convictions? Who should determine when medical care is futile and no longer benefits the dying patient?
The answers to questions about care at the end of life, as well as decisions made by persons who are dying and by their loved ones, vary in response to cultural influences, family issues, and spiritual beliefs. Historical, social, cultural, political, and religious convictions shape ethical beliefs about death and guide the actions of health care professionals and persons who are terminally ill. For people of faith, religious convictions are vitally important when making end-of-life decisions.