In 1994, Oregon voters passed the Death with Dignity Act, which legalized physician-assisted suicide for the terminally ill. Since then, it has become legal in 4 more states, including New Mexico, where the state court ruling that it is constitutional is under appeal. Is it, in the words of the American Medical Association's code of ethics, "fundamentally incompatible with the physician's role as healer"? Will these laws lead to a slippery slope, where the vulnerable are pressured to choose death and human life is devalued? Or do we need to recognize everyone's basic right to autonomy, the right to end pain and suffering, and the right to choose to die with dignity?
Baroness Ilora Finlay, a leading palliative care physician, is president of the British Medical Association (2014-15), president of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, and is a past president of the Royal Society of Medicine. She has led Palliative Care Strategy Implementation in Wales since 2008, and chaired the Welsh Medical and Dental Academic Advisory Board since 2012. Finlay was a general practitioner in inner city Glasgow before returning to Cardiff to work full-time in care of the terminally ill. She works at the Velindre Cancer Centre, covering SE Wales when clinically on call. Finlay started the Marie Curie Hospice in Wales and since 2008 has responsibility on behalf of Welsh Government for strategic oversight of all hospice and palliative care services in Wales. Since 2001, Finlay has been an Independent Crossbench Peer in the House of Lords.
Peter Singer is the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics in the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University. He specializes in applied ethics and approaches ethical issues from a secular, preference utilitarian perspective. Singer is well-known for his book, Animal Liberation, a canonical text in animal rights/liberation theory. From 2005 on, Singer has also held the part-time position of Laureate Professor at the University of Melbourne, in the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics.
Andrew Solomon's most recent book, The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression, won the 2001 National Book Award, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; it has received 14 additional national awards and is published in 24 languages. Mr. Solomon is a Lecturer in Psychiatry at Weill-Cornell Medical College, and has lectured on depression around the world. He is a contributing editor at Travel and Leisure, and writes for The New York Times and The New Yorker, among others. He is currently working on a book entitled, Far from the Tree: A Legacy of Love, in which he studies family dynamics and extraordinary children; he is also working on a PhD at Cambridge University. He serves on numerous philanthropic boards in the fields of mental health, the arts, and gay rights, and is a fellow of Berkeley College at Yale University and the New York Institute for the Humanities.
Dr. Daniel Sulmasy is the Kilbride-Clinton Professor of Medicine and Ethics in the Department of Medicine and Divinity School at the University of Chicago, where he serves as Associate Director of the MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics and as Director of the Program on Medicine and Religion. He received his AB and MD degrees from Cornell University and holds a PhD in philosophy from Georgetown University. Sulmasy was appointed to the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues by President Obama in 2010. His research interests encompass both theoretical and empirical investigations of the ethics of end-of-life decision-making, ethics education, and spirituality in medicine. He is the author or editor of six books, including Safe Passage: A Global Spiritual Sourcebook for Care at the End of Life (2014). He also serves as editor-in-chief of the journal, Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics.