Hastening Death to Avoid Prolonged Dementia

By Norman L. Cantor

The scourge of Alzheimer’s is daunting. For me, the specter of being mired in progressively degenerative dementia is an intolerably degrading prospect. One avoidance tactic — suicide while still competent — risks a premature demise while still enjoying a tolerable lifestyle.

The question arises whether an alternative tactic — an advance directive declining all life-sustaining intervention once a certain point of debilitation is reached — might be preferable as a device to avert a prolonged, unwanted limbo.

In the past, I’ve sketched my thoughts on this topic on Bill of Health.

My article forthcoming in the Hastings Center Report (HCR) elaborates on the legal and moral foundation for my advance directive declining even simplistic interventions at a relatively early stage of post-competence cognitive decline.

It is titled “On Avoiding Deep Dementia,” and the cite is 48:4 Hastings Center Report (July/August 2018).

Hastings Center solicited three commentaries on my article from several bioethicists, including Rebecca Dresser and Daniel Sulmasy. Those commentaries appear in the same edition.

One thought to “Hastening Death to Avoid Prolonged Dementia”

  1. We will never truly be a free society until we are free to choose life or death. There is no freedom more basic, none more important. It is the ultimate freedom.

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