Fearrington Cares Continuing Series: Ethical Decision-Making at the End of Life

The first session in this four-part series explored the ethical and legal context for end-of-life decision-making, from foundational “right to choose” cases that brought bioethics into public awareness in the 1970s, to the present-day landscape related to medical aid in dying (sometimes referred to as “assisted suicide”). Also included was a discussion of the limits of our choice mechanisms and the distress that can occur at the hospital bedside when patient preferences have not been communicated in advance. Session 2 continues those topics. In the last two sessions of the series, we will build on this background by supporting participants in articulating their values for care at end of life and exploring the range of available options for translating those values into purposeful advance care plans.

Session 2: Medical Aid in Dying (MAID): Lessons Learned from Vermont and Elsewhere
Thursday, October 21, 7:00 pm (NOTE: Third Thursday) via Zoom

Mara Buchbinder, PhD, is a professor in the UNC Department of Social Medicine and a core faculty member in the UNC Center for Bioethics. Her presentation will cover:

• Current legal landscape of medical aid in dying in the US.
• Stories from clinicians and patients in Vermont—and how they stray from the dominant public narratives about assisted death.
• Broader takeaway lessons about choice, control, and the privilege of planning.

Session 3: Death and Dying: Isn’t It Time We Talked?
Thursday, November 11, 7:00 pm (Zoom or in person to be determined.)

Deb Love, JD, MBA, MA (bioethics), an adjunct assistant professor in the UNC Department of Social Medicine, and Mara Buchbinder will provide a joint session covering:

• Personal nature of values and preferences.
• Clarifying your values.
• Considerations in selecting your healthcare agent; understanding the North Carolina statutory hierarchy for decision-makers in the event you do not choose.
• Beginning the conversation with your loved ones.

Session 4: Helping Others Know and Honor Your Wishes

Thursday, December 9, 7:00 pm (Zoom or in person to be determined.)

Deb Love will complete our series by discussing:

• Advance directives and portable medical orders—benefits and limitations.
• Voluntarily Stopping Eating and Drinking (VSED).
• Dementia advance directives.
• Differences between palliative care and hospice.
• End-of-life doulas.