Thursday, February 12, 2009

Vivid Examples

In response to complaints about not posting..

Today we were discussing Euthanasia in my Ethics class. We were talking about autonomy. I asked what students felt about the wishes of people regarding medi
cal treatments, and whether those wishes should be honored when and if the person loses consciousness. I tweaked the example to include new information.
A patient is told he has terminal brain cancer and will experience stroke like symptoms, loss of motor control, and severe pain, if he survives any heart failure. So, he refuses treatment hoping to die from the heart failure. He suffers a heart attack and loses consciousness, whereupon it is discovered the doctors who advised him were looking at the wrong chart, he should recover fine from the heart attack. Should they honor his DNR? The class discussion went pretty much as I expected and we talked about the rights of people to refuse treatment in general.
After class a student asked if she could post something about that on the online discussion forum (I am requiring online discussion for this class, I am so high tech). I said sure, and she elaborated that her aunt died recently from AIDS related illness, a fact discovered only after her death. Her aunt didn't tell anyone, and was never treated for her condition. We talked about, and it was clear my student was deeply affected by the loss. It was sweet and sad. I haven't really taught this class as a Contemporary Moral Issues sort of class, partially because I didn't like the way things got personal. Homophobia, religious intolerance, cruelty to the people who had abortions, or benefited from welfare or affirmative action. Discussing these thing candidly often brings out the worst in people. Today was the opposite. I think it helped her to share her situation with me, so I'm glad I was there.


At 10:15 PM, Blogger amanda said...

I'll bet discussing certain things does bring out people's ingrained prejudices, but doesn't the sheer asshole-ness of the extreme cases cause the non-extreme cases to think about it?
I suppose the answer could be no, but I really hope not.


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