Cognoscenti: COVID-19 Won’t Let Us Forget Our Maddening, Precious Mortality

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“Every morning, Americans wake up to news of a rising death toll from the coronavirus. We hit the refresh button and the numbers snake upward. Right about now, many of us might wish that we could trade places with a hydra — the famed aquatic creature that scientists believe to be immortal — even for a bit, while we catch our breath. Left to its own devices, the hydra’s cells regenerate endlessly, making it impervious to death. From inside our frayed, shrink-wrapped lives, that sounds pretty good.”

Read the full Cognoscenti piece here.

KevinMD: We are all living with serious illness now

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“In the midst of this global health crisis, it’s easy to forget that there are still those among us living with serious illness. As a palliative care physician and a medical anthropologist, we know that living with serious illness often means coming to terms with difficult information. It means dealing with uncertainty about the future, making it hard to plan ahead. And it means constantly balancing feelings of hope and despair, even vacillating between the two in a single moment.”

Read the full KevinMD piece here (co-authored with Michael Pottash). Artwork by Michael Lane (differentcreatures).

Website that helps you plan for death finds success with millennials

Mashable interviewed Anita Hannig for an article on Lantern, a website that wants to make planning for death completely normal. “A lot of people still think that if you’re talking about death too much, there’s an eerie way you’re bringing it about,” Hannig says. “Having a website like this is making death so much more manageable, so that you can focus on the actual process of death and dying when it happens.” Read the full article here.

The Conversation: Assisted Dying Is Not the Easy Way Out

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“One in every five Americans now lives in a state with legal access to a medically assisted death. In theory, assisted dying laws allow patients with a terminal prognosis to hasten the end of their life, once their suffering has overcome any desire to live. While these laws may make the process of dying less painful for some, they don’t make it easier. Of the countries that have aid-in-dying laws, the U.S. has the most restrictive. Intended to reduce unnecessary suffering, the laws can sometimes have the opposite effect.”

Read the full Conversation op-ed here.

Cognoscenti: How Our Assisted Dying Laws Work Against Some People Who Suffer The Most

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“No matter where you stand on the right to die, the recent New York Times feature on Marieke Vervoort’s life or death decision likely touched a chord. After years of blinding pain brought on by a degenerative muscle disease, the Paralympic Belgian medalist opted for a medically assisted death. Though Vervoort’s struggles transcend borders, her ability to die this way does not.”

Read the full Cognoscenti op-ed here.

Hooker Distinguished Lectures at McMaster University

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On October 29-30, 2019, Anita Hannig delivered two lectures as part of her appointment as Harry Lyman Hooker Distinguished Visiting Professor at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. Her first talk, “Science and Sanctity,” took place in the Department of Religious Studies. She delivered the second talk, “The Art of Dying,” in the Medical School. More details can be found here.

The Farewell

USAindex TODAY interviewed Anita Hannig for an article that discusses different cultural expectations around sharing someone’s terminal prognosis. “There’s this idea of ‘filial debt,’ that you owe your mother and father for taking care of you all your life, so when that person gets sick, the family steps up to take care of them,” Hannig says. “These decisions (about health care) then become distributed among the family, and the idea of autonomy gets shifted over to the relatives.” Read the full article here.

Aid-in-Dying Symposium in Montana

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Ten years after the landmark Baxter v. Montana decision, the School of Law at the University of Montana convened a symposium on aid-in-dying, featuring the original plaintiffs and one of Baxter’s daughters. Judge Nelson, one of the Montana Supreme Court judges, gave the keynote address.