Dying a Christian Death in the 21st Century

Moral Controversies in Care at the End of Life

Conference 1: What is the Place of Sedation in the Care at the End of Life?

October 2016 | As death draws near, patients may experience intense suffering. Christian belief affirms a duty to relieve unnecessary suffering yet proscribes euthanasia. This conference concerns one aspect of medical care at the end of life: whether it is ever morally permissible to render such patients unconscious in order to relieve their suffering and, if so, under what conditions? Is this practice morally distinguishable from euthanasia? Can one ever aim directly at making a dying person unconscious, or is it only permissible to tolerate unconsciousness as an unintended side effect of treating a particular symptom? What role does the rule of double effect play in making such decisions? Does spiritual or psychological suffering ever justify sedation to unconsciousness? What are the theological and spiritual aspects of such care?

An outstanding group of Christian ethicists and theologians will address these questions in a one-day conference at the University of Chicago Divinity School. The conference is the first of a four-part annual series on care at the end-of-life to be held 2016-2019. The conference series is sponsored by the McDonald-Agape Foundation and co-hosted by the Martin Marty Center for the Advanced Study of Religion and the Program on Medicine and Religion (PMR) at the University of Chicago.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, SPEAKERS, and to REGISTER, visit the Program on Medicine and Religion.