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GeriPal - A Geriatrics and Palliative Care Podcast

Sep 5, 2019

In this week's podcast we talk with Lew Cohen, MD, about his new book "A Dignified Ending: Taking Control Over How We Die." Eric and I approached reading this book with trepidation. We feared it would be a polemic defending physician aid in dying. It is not. Dr. Cohen does not hide his beliefs and opinions. He also does not shy away from the complexity of the issue - he interviews leading disability rights activists and challenges leaders of the aid in dying movement. His book is filled with stories of the people and family, doctors and activist who have defined this movement. As Eric says, he takes the controversy meter up to 11 with notions of approving aid in dying and euthanasia for progressive neurological conditions such as dementia (with thoughtful safeguards). We challenge Lew, somewhat forcefully at times. Personally, I disagree with many of his stances (as you will hear/read), but I can respect how thoughtfully he's gone about putting together his study of the issue. As Dr. Cohen notes, no issue seems to activate the strong emotion centers of our brain like aid in dying. In this time of extreme polarization, it's critical that we engage in thoughtful and respectful communication about aid in dying. - Alex Smith, MD