Catholic doctors to hold conference on end of life issues

.- Franciscan University's Institute of Bioethics is hosting a conference in March for health professionals and will address the topic of “Ethical Issues on Suffering and Death.”

“Death and suffering are the two topics that most often confront health care professionals and ethics committees in hospitals,” explained Dr. Patrick Lee, director of the Institute. “When do we withdraw life-sustaining treatment? Why does our society view suffering as the problem to be treated, rather than the mere symptom of a deeper problem?”

The upcoming conference has a particular relevance given the current health care reform effort and comes at a time when right to life issues are at the forefront of legislative debate.

“What's at stake in the current cultural debates about abortion and euthanasia,” Dr. Lee continued, “is whether we as as society are going to recognize the equal and inherent dignity of all human beings or not.”

Several prominent healthcare professionals and speakers will attend the March 26-28 conference and six medical experts will address a wide range of ethical issues faced by healthcare workers today.

Dr. Germain Grisez, professor emeritus of philosophy and moral theology at Mount Saint Mary's College in Emmitsburg, Maryland, will give a lecture on the topic, “What Suffering Is and Why God Allows Evil.”

Dr. Theresa Collett, professor of law at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, will discuss “The Value of Life and State Action” and Dr. John Haas, president of the National Catholic Bioethics Center, will speak on “Difficulties in End-of-Life Care Decisions.”

Brother Daniel Sulmasy, OFM, MD, PhD, will lecture on “Appropriate Responses to Different Types of Suffering at the End of Life.” Sulmasy is a Franciscan friar, medical doctor, and noted bioethicist. Dr. Rita Marker, executive director of the International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide, will give an overview of “Current End-of-Life Ethical Issues and Dilemmas” and Dr. Andrew Trew’s talk on “Suffering, Death, and the Doctor-Patient Relationship” draws from his work as a member of the Internal Review Board at the Cleveland Clinic.

“Ethical Issues on Suffering and Death” is the fifth conference to be sponsored by the Institute of Bioethics since its founding in 2007. The stated mission of the Institute is “to engage the modern culture and present the truth of the human person, following the call of Pope John Paul II in Evangelium Vitae for universities to provide the research, discussion, and articulation of arguments that stand up for and spread the culture of life.”

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