Students host deliberation on end-of-life care

Kelley Holland

Around 20 people gathered in Mahurin Honors College on Wednesday to discuss end-of-life care.

The community deliberation was held and moderated by four students from the Honors 251 “Citizen and Self” class. They researched end-of-life care, including the controversial issue of assisted suicide. The main goal was to discuss what should be prioritized when approaching end-of-life care.

The moderators said end-of-life care is an important and often overlooked topic of discussion within our society. They wanted to create a productive face-to-face discussion about an emotionally charged issue. In a handout given to attendees, they stated that “even though death is an uncomfortable topic to discuss, it’s important to be aware of the various options available”.

Three options presented by the students were longevity of life, quality of life and autonomy. Actions and drawbacks were presented for each option, such as the increasing access to pain medication versus worsening prescription drug abuse in the U.S.

Students voiced their opinions on each topic and some shared personal stories about family members who have been through hospice care.

“If you get a disease, I feel like it should be your choice as to whether you want to go through more pain just to maybe get better,” said Morgan Porter, 18, a psychology major from Louisville.

Attendees also touched on issues such as the cost of life support and how it might affect society as well as experimental treatments and the possible consequences it can have.

“Does prolonging their life then cost the rest of society? Having different options could alleviate some of that monetary stress,” said Kerby Gilstrap, 19, a freshman from Bowling Green.

During the dialogue, students discussed the way death is perceived in pop culture and how that may affect the way we feel about it, making it an often uncomfortable and dreary topic.

Cal Zafren, 19, a computer science major from Lexington, was one of the moderators. He said the topic of assisted suicide and the controversy surrounding it has always interested him.

“I find the conversation about what a person wants versus what the law is very interesting,” Zafren said.

Zafren said he hopes those who attended left with a better understanding of the topic.

Jo Cannady, 19, a nursing major from Meade County, attended the deliberation to support her fellow classmates but also found the topic intriguing.

“It’s so interesting that they chose this to talk to a group of students about and to get opinions from other people,” Cannady said. “Death is something we don’t really talk about, especially assisted suicide.”

Seven more community deliberations will be held throughout the day Thursday, April 11.

Features reporter Kelley Holland can be reached at 270-745-6291 and [email protected].