George P. Smith II, a visiting fellow at Indiana University's Center for Law, Ethics, and Applied Research in Health Information, will deliver the center's first public lecture in tribute to his late friend, former IU President Myles N. Brand.
The lecture, "Managing End-of-Life Care: Medico-Legal, Social, Ethical, and Philosophical Challenges," is at 4 p.m. Nov. 9 at Indiana University Maurer School of Law's Moot Court Room.
Smith, a professor at The Catholic University of America Law School and CLEAR's first-ever visiting fellow, has devoted significant time throughout his career to the subject of palliative care. His lecture will analyze the two foundational challenges to human health care at the end-stage of life: the extent to which a patient with a terminal illness can control his or her treatment options, and the level of state control and intervention in the dying process.
"The topics of death and of dying are a popular concern," Smith said. "There will never be one, unified national consensus on the extent to which the state should protect the dying and allow its members to die a 'good death' without unnecessary suffering and with compassion."
Smith cites a 2006 poll conducted by the Pew Research Center that found an overwhelming majority that supports laws giving patients the right to decide whether they wish to be kept alive through medical treatment at the end-stage of life.
"This finding serves to buttress the conclusion that personal autonomy, and the right to refuse any or all treatment, is a constitutional liberty of high order," Smith said. "It is the responsibility of the state to safeguard and protect this liberty."
Smith is dedicating the CLEAR lecture in honor of Brand, who succumbed to pancreatic cancer in 2009.